Thursday, December 4, 2008
UCLA Daily Bruin

Chancellor denounces activist violence

Gene Block speaks out against recent fire bombing of two vehicles by the Students and Workers for the Liberation of UCLA Primates
Daniel Schonhaut

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block condemned violence by animal rights activists in a university statement last week after two vehicles were torched outside of a Los Angeles home on Nov. 20. Students and Workers for the Liberation of UCLA Primates claimed responsibility for the attack which targeted a UCLA researcher.

"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 a UCLA statement.

An improvised incendiary device was used to carry out the attack, UCLA spokesman Phil Hampton said. Hampton said the vehicles were destroyed outside of a house that was occupied by a woman who does not work at UCLA and her daughter. Both were sleeping at the time of the attack, Hampton said. "Words cannot express the contempt we hold for these acts of cowardice that have put in harms way not only our faculty, students and staff, but their families, friends and neighbors". Block said, according to the statement.

The North American Animal Liberation Press Office, which speaks on the behalf of animal rights activist groups, responded to Block's remarks in a statement released Nov. 27. "These are typical lies and deception that UCLA and other apologists for animal abuse trot out to hide their complicity in the unnecessary imprisonment, torture and killing of non-human animals," said Jerry Vlasak, a spokesman for the Animal Liberation Press Office.

Vlasak described the use of violence in the struggle to end animal research as an unfortunate but necessary measure. "The UCLA administration has had every opportunity to peacefully negotiate, and has flatly refused even to meet with (animal rights groups)." He added, "All peaceful things have been tried, so what else can be done?" Vlasak believes that extremist groups will continue to act until at some point the university will stop or people doing the research will come to their senses. "Eventually there will be a time when somebody steps in and harms or physically stops these researchers from hurting animals, and I think if that happens then it would be morally justifiable," Vlasak said.

Vlasak said he thought that injuring innocent people should be avoided, but did not rule out the possibility of accidental occurrences. "I certainly don't think anybody wants to harm innocent bystanders, but it's worth noting that up to 500,000 innocent people have been killed in Iraq by US forces," he said. "It's unfortunate that the struggle to help these innocent animals has progressed this far," Vlasak said. "But really UCLA has no one to blame but themselves."

University police are currently working with the LAPD and FBI to catch those responsible for the Nov. 20 arson attack, said Hampton. This recent act was only one in a series of violent crimes directed at the university that have been linked to animal rights activist groups.

These crimes include the firebombing of a UCLA vanpool vehicle in June 2008. "Acts like this do not represent the expression of free speech," Hampton said. "Firebombs are not free speech." Hampton maintained that the university refuses to negotiate with animal rights groups unless they denounce violence and threats.

According to a university statement, UCLA remains steadfast in its commitment to the legal use of laboratory animals in research for the benefit of society. Discontinuing all animal research would diminish hope for millions of people with AIDS, cancer, heart disease and other ailments.

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