Conservatives for Science: Medical researchers and activist terror tactics
Scientists working on cures and therapies for numerous human afflictions require the use of animals as testing subjects before their work can advance to human testing. Many of these researchers face an increasing threat of violence and intimidation from extremist animal rights activists. Now a victim of this violence is standing up for himself and other researchers.
Over the last few years, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, have received death threats, had their cars firebombed and had their homes vandalized by activists who want to stop animal testing. This week, one UCLA professor said enough is enough.David Jentsch is a neurobiologist who studies the effects of drug addiction and mental illness. He uses monkeys in his research, and that’s made him a target of animal rights extremists. Early in the morning on March 7, they set his car on fire.
“I rose my head up from my pillow and looked out my window, and I saw a glow coming from the window that if you’ve ever seen, you wouldn’t mistake for anything else,” he recalls.
Jentsch ran downstairs, out the door, grabbed his garden hose and frantically tried to put out the fire.
“But at that point, the damage had been done,” he says. He’s not talking about the car; he means the terror he now lives with.
The goal of these extremists is to literally scare scientists away from using animals in their research. If these terror tactics succeed it could potentially lead to the suspension of important research in a number of fields. But David Jentsch refuses to be intimidated.
For his part, Jentsch refuses to give into the fear. After his car was set on fire, he founded UCLA Pro-Test, an organization that supports animal research and the UCLA scientists who have been targeted by extremists.
Last week, he spoke before hundreds of UCLA medical students, professors and technicians rallying in Los Angeles to support animal researchers.
“Whether you participate in animal research or not, we are all a community of scholars and we are standing up today to say that that horrible face that comes in the night can’t come anymore — it has to stop,” he told the crowd.
Just to underscore the seriousness of these intimidation tactics, note that one of these extremists was just added to the FBI’s Most Wanted List.