UCLA Pro-Test Group Forms; Rally Planned for Apr 22nd

Mar 31 2009 Published by under Animals in Research

As many of you are aware, the UCLA research community has been under assault from the Animal Rights Activist community for a couple of many years now. There has been an escalating series of attacks on the individual investigator's homes and property, the most recent being the successful fire-bombing of a researcher's car.
This researcher has been instrumental in creating a chapter of Pro-Test in the UCLA community.

Students, faculty and staff at UCLA have formed a group to demonstrate their support for life-saving medical research, and as a sign of solidarity towards those scientists who have been the victims of recent animal rights extremism. California has become the center of anti animal-research extremism in the US, with anti-biomedical research groups and underground terrorist organizations putting on regular demonstrations against laboratories and scientists across the state. There have also been numerous incidents of extremism by groups such as the Animal Liberation Brigade (ALB) and the "Justice Department." UCLA Pro-Test founder David Jentsch was the victim of such an attack, when his car was firebombed and his personal safety threatened, by the ALB.
The campus movement, UCLA Pro-Test, has organized a demonstration on Wednesday, April 22nd in order to support medical research; it will coincide with the "World Week for Animals in Laboratories" rally organized by various anti-research extremist groups. The upcoming UCLA Pro-Test demonstration parallels the 2006 demonstrations by the UK student organization Pro-Test, which opened the public debate on animal research in the UK and contributed to the downfall of animal rights activism in the UK. One of UK Pro-Tests founders, Tom Holder, will be on hand at the Los Angeles rally to show his support for our efforts and to emcee the event.

If you are near UCLA and support animal research, please join the demonstration.

Demonstration: Wednesday April 22nd 2009. 11:30 am Location: UCLA Campus - Junction of Westwood Blvd & Le Conte Ave.

There is a Facebook group, in case you want to keep up with the goings-on. More importantly, adding yourself to the Member list will be an important contribution to one of the underlying idea of Pro-Test, i.e., to show just how many people support animal research.
Nick has a great overview of the history of Pro-Test in the UK.

9 responses so far

  • Tom says:

    More information on the rally also here:
    http://speakingofresearch.com/get-involved/ucla-pro-test/
    Facebook group link:
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=145728920467
    We need to see hundreds of people on the UCLA campus on April 22nd!!

  • Denis Alexander says:

    Couple of years?
    The present wave started at least 6 years ago:
    http://www.dailybruin.ucla.edu/stories/2003/apr/30/researchers-home-vandalized/

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Thanks for the correction Denis. My how time has flown...

  • Dave says:

    It's a shame that animal rights radicals have been so successful in masking their activities as some sort of moral stance, and unfortunate that researchers have been so willing to fight on the ground chosen by their opponents. I think this demonstration is the wrong strategy, in that it solidifies sentiment, invites contentious disagreement, and will ultimately result in more problems than it solves. It's a classic sword-rattling maneuver.
    Researchers should instead acknowledge that animal use is a morally ambiguous issue, note that debate is appropriate, and concede that strong feelings are acceptable. As many have pointed out in many places, researchers care about animals too.
    What researchers need to focus the debate on is the fact that harrassment, threats, and destruction of private property are NOT morally ambiguous, and are not acceptable for any reason. These are crimes, and should be treated as such.
    Thus, the better way for targeted researchers to handle threats would be to note that they were threatened or their property was destroyed. Period. Let people be appropriately shocked and horrified. DON'T advertise the animal rights issue. DON'T suggest that there is any sort of acceptable justification for the actions of violent animal rights groups.
    Unfortunately, the UCLA researchers have given in to their anger. They might win a battle, but at this rate they'll lose the war. I suggest not supporting this demonstration.

  • Paul says:

    Sorry Dave but I entirely disagree, the lesson from the UK is clear. So long as researchers and supporters of medical research kept their heads down and didn't take a public stand the extremists were emboldened, they saw the lack of solidarity as a sign of lack of support and this made them redouble their attacks.
    The Pro-Test demonstration in Oxford changed all that by providing scientists ans supporters of medical research with an opportunity to show solidarity with the individual scientists (and contractors etc.) who were being targeted by the extremists. The Pro-Test rally, and the huge amount of postiive coverage it received in the media (from right, left and center), showed the extremists that while they were winning the odd victory by forcing individuals or companies to give in it was they who were loosing the public relations war. This has undoubtably helped to decrease the number of attacks on scientists in recent years, and also helped make scientists more confident about discussing their work in public, which seems to be what you want.
    So I say to the people of LA (and beyond), get out there and support their scientists.
    As we said in Oxford "No more lies, no more fear, animal research wanted here!!".

  • anon says:

    As a member of the UCLA community, a colleague of David Jentsch, and a regular reader of your blog, I just want to say thank you for the support! Anything we can do to stand together as a scientific community against this terrorism will help.
    For Dave- clearly we have to think carefully about animal research and a lot of effort goes into considering animal welfare and what the value of the results will be before projects ever come close to being carried out. I think part of what we have to do as scientists is educate the general public about how much of a focus of that is and how that system works. This is something important to work on in the long term. That said, the general public also needs to be shown that this violence is happening (most people don't really know, or fully appreciate the situation even in LA) and that we think it is unacceptable. The researchers at UCLA haven't given into anger. WE aren't firebombing anyone. We have simply decided that the time has come for people to know that we don't believe that this is something that is shameful- this research is helping people, and we are proud of it, and we are going to come together (without anger and violence) to show solidarity with our colleagues who they are systematically and ruthlessly attacking.

  • Anon2 says:

    UCLA Pro-Test is a very welcome development.
    Yet, why is that the UCLA community facing this alone? Where is the support of their colleagues from other institutions in California and across the country? Where is NIH to support the work that these scientists to for the public? Where is the Obama administration? Where is the analog of Colin Blakemore in the US?
    Go Bruins!

  • Paul Browne says:

    Hi Anon2, I think you should give the wider scientific community a chance, after all Pro-Test UCLA have been in existance for only a week and public for a few days. Hopefully we'll see more scientists come out in support as word of the new group spreads.
    In my experience people always need something to rally around before they will rally.

  • Martin says:

    Anon2, UCLA is not facing this alone. I know of a number of people from other universities and research institutions throughout Southern California--myself included--who plan to be there to show our support.
    To me, this is not an issue of supporting animal research. I will admit, I have never done research involving animals in my life. (I do, however, know plenty of people who do.) To me, this is an issue of supporting the biomedical research community, and the ideals of having the right tools that--when used judiciously and thoughtfully--can yield great benefits to the lives of other people, and to animals as well.
    Dave, researchers do acknowledge that the use of animals is a morally ambiguous issue. Does any researcher *enjoy* causing harm to other living creatures? Sure, the extremists would have you believe we're all nut jobs who get our jollies from slicing monkeys apart, but to believe that those researchers who use animals never stop to consider the moral implications of what they are doing is absurd. We're rational people; I am certain that is part of what made many of us go into science in the first place. Anyone who has ever had to go through the process of obtaining approval to study animals in an experiment, and anyone who has ever had to pay to house those animals, can tell how you much red tape and expense is involved in doing animal research. It sure as heck ain't easy, and it sure as heck ain't convenient.
    I do respect that there are people who oppose animal research. I have no problem with those who exercise their beliefs in productive ways. I can offer my opinion, but I cannot expect to change their minds.
    The fact that we use animals in research bothers me. I would love to see the day when no researcher needed to use an animal in *any* experiment. I wish more funding into the development of animal alternatives was available. I think most of my colleagues would agree. But without animals, we are missing our best (and, in most cases, only) routes to life-saving medical discoveries.
    Also, Dave, while I can't speak for everyone, I can say this. I am not angry. None of the folks I know who will be attending the rally are angry. No, we are eager. Eager to stand up for the ideals of science and rational discourse.

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