Activists make threats
Jan. 11, 2009 10:59 p.m.
The Animal Liberation Front released two statements from anonymous people in the last month detailing threats and vandalism against UCLA professors and property.
The threats were made in an effort to end the inhumane treatment of animals in research, the group said in a statement.
One statement, released Jan. 8 by the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, an organization that communicates the actions of animal liberation groups, said that UCLA Professor Edythe London had received a card in the mail containing blood, a threatening note and razor blades covered in rat poison.
University police have been investigating the claims, but UCLA spokesman Phil Hampton said, “There has been nothing to show these claims are true.”
“Quite often the communiques that are posted have been unsubstantiated,” he said.
However, Hampton said UCPD and the FBI are continuing to investigate this and many other actions made by animal liberation groups against UCLA faculty and property in the past.
“Bringing to justice the people responsible for these reprehensible acts is a priority for UCLA,” Hampton said.
“UCLA condemns in the strongest possible terms these tactics,” he said. “Violence and threats of violence are not free speech.”
Jerry Vlasak, a press officer for the Animal Liberation Press Office, said he was not surprised UCLA denied the claims.
“UCLA has denied pretty much everything, and the only time they have not is when there are photographs,” Vlasak said.
London, a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences and molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine, conducts research involving nicotine and methamphetamine tested on animals.
The Animal Liberation Front has claimed responsibility for flooding her house and placing an incendiary device on her doorstep in the past year and a half. The ALF also claimed responsibility for the card.
Vlasak said animal liberation groups began with peaceful means but have had to take more drastic action to achieve their ends.
“People have gotten frustrated when (researchers) won’t listen to reason,” he said. “We want to force her to stop the atrocities she is committing against these animals.”
The other statement from the press office included photographs of a vanpool vehicle that had been spray painted and had its tires slit, which UCPD confirmed occurred in mid-December.
Professors at UCLA who perform research on animals have been targets of a number of threats.
UCLA property, especially vanpool vehicles, have also been subject to vandalism by animal liberation groups.
Hampton said actions like these are not unique to UCLA and have been common within the UC system as well as across the nation.
Hampton also said that last summer a professor at UC Santa Cruz had to escape with her family from a second-story window of her home because of a firebomb. A UCSC researcher’s car was also blown up. The attacks were allegedly carried out by animal liberationists, according to Daily Bruin archives.
Chancellor Gene Block condemned the actions in a public statement after two vehicles were torched in November outside a home thought to be owned by a UCLA researcher. The home, however, was owned by someone unaffiliated with UCLA.
“Through these reprehensible tactics and reckless behavior, anti-animal research extremists demonstrate repeatedly that they are willing not only to risk the lives of those who spend their careers working to help others but also the lives of the unsuspecting general public, including children,” Block said in the statement.
Hampton said that all research done on animals is subject to strict oversight by university and federal regulations and that the results of animal research done at UCLA have enhanced the treatments and diagnosis for AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and many others.
However, Vlasak said UCLA is not using research money efficiently.
He said UCLA uses large sums of money on addicting primates to methamphetamine, instead of on research.
“They are wasting money that could be used to really help people,” he said.