Sunday, October 20

Researchers’ home vandalized


Animal rights protesters vandalized the home of two UCLA
researchers last week, according to a police report filed by the
victims.

On-campus demonstrations that coincided with World Week for
Animals in Laboratories were followed by protests in some
researchers’ neighborhoods Monday.

John Schlag, a neurobiology professor, and Madeleine Schlag-Rey,
a neurobiology researcher, two targets of animal rights activists,
said their home was damaged by protesters.

At 10:15 p.m. Monday night, Schlag said they heard a lot of
noise on the street, followed by loud banging and kicking on their
door.

“The way it proceeded … we felt that the door was going
to be kicked in,” Schlag-Rey said.

The Schlags, whose research focuses on the mechanisms of human
sight, filed a police report with the Los Angeles Police Department
that listed a broken street lamp and a broken door window as a
result of the vandalism. Neighbors told the police that the
suspects were wearing masks and dark clothing.

It is not yet known whether anyone has been arrested in
connection to the incident.

The following morning, the Schlags noticed that a screen in the
front of their house had been broken by a large rock thrown from
the street.

“We could have been killed (by the rock),”
Schlag-Rey said.

The Schlags have sent a photograph of the broken screen and the
rock to the LAPD in order to add it to the police report.

Though the police report labels the suspects as
“protesters,” Erica Sutherland, a member of the loosely
organized animal rights group that ran the past week’s events
on campus, said members of her organization “don’t
participate in any illegal activity.”

Sutherland, a third-year sociology student, said that she and
other Students for Animal Liberation members were involved in
demonstrations outside researchers’ homes where protesters
“educated neighbors.”

“I think it’s incredibly important that neighbors
know that they are living near animal abusers,” Sutherland
said.

Sutherland, who said she was involved in demonstrations at
another professor’s home at about 7 p.m., said her fellow
protesters were “friendly (and) happy to dialogue” with
neighbors.

Joaquin Fuster, the professor whose home Sutherland was
protesting at, was out of the country and could not be reached for
comment.

Sutherland explained that she sees home protests as
“completely fair” because the animals that are utilized
in research can’t escape their cages, and so the researchers
shouldn’t be able to hide or escape either.

Schlag-Rey had a different view. She said she sees the home
protests, along with fliers distributed in their neighborhood that
label the Schlags as “fanatics,” more as a means of
intimidation.

She added that though the protests were aimed at turning their
neighbors against them, demonstrators succeeded in angering
neighbors who were “outraged” by the vandalism.

Sutherland said that neighbors she encountered during the home
protest she was involved in were friendly and willing to listen to
what she had to say.

“I thought it was a really positive and peaceful
protest,” Sutherland said of the demonstration in which she
was involved.

The Schlags agree that animal rights activists can be
effective.

“When they are reasonable, they are doing a lot of
good,” Schlag-Rey said.

She added that animal rights advocates have alerted researchers
to a lot of important animal abuse issues.

While the Schlags recognize the benefit of these
protesters’ work, they said that their research is also
important.

The Schlags’ studies on visual systems and eye movement in
monkeys and humans may help researchers better understand disorders
like dyslexia and hyperactivity, they said.

Schlag-Rey added that knowing where visual centers are located
in the brain is useful for neurosurgeons who remove brain tumors;
this information would allow them to steer clear of damaging
patients’ visual capabilities.

The Schlags emphasize that the protesters actions will not deter
them from their research.

“We as researchers are not intimidated ““ we are not
hiding,” Schlag-Rey said.

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