Anti–animal research extremists have claimed responsibility for torching two vehicles in front of a Los Angeles home as part of a campaign of illegal harassment and violent acts directed at campus researchers and their families.
UCLA police — who are investigating with the FBI, the LAPD and the Los Angeles Fire Department arson unit — said the home where the two vehicles were destroyed is owned by somebody unaffiliated with animal research at UCLA. A UCLA researcher lives nearby, and extremists apparently got the address wrong, police said.
"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," UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said. "Words cannot express the contempt we hold for these acts of cowardice that have now put in harm's way not only our faculty, students and staff but their families, friends and neighbors. UCLA police will continue to work closely with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to bring to justice those responsible, and I ask anyone with information to come forward."
Extremists claimed in a Nov. 25 website posting to have placed an improvised incendiary device under the vehicle of a UCLA researcher on Greenfield Avenue in the early morning hours of Nov. 20; two vehicles were destroyed. A woman who does not work at UCLA and her daughter were asleep in the home at the time. The apparent target — a UCLA researcher who four years ago utilized non-human primates while investigating treatments and cures for morbid obesity and other eating disorders — lives nearby. It is the second time extremists targeted a private residence they incorrectly thought to be owned by a UCLA researcher; in each case, they used or attempted to use incendiary devices to cause harm and released "communiqus" to boast of their actions and intentions.
For several years, UCLA researchers have been subjected to violent actions and other illegal harassment by extremists opposed to the use of animals in research. This has included the torching of a UCLA commuter van and Molotov cocktails left at the homes and under the vehicles of UCLA researchers. Earlier this month, an extremist was found in contempt of court for violating a court order prohibiting harassment.
UCLA research involving animals is subject to strict federal laws and university regulations.
Chancellor Block said that UCLA is committed to continuing legal and humane animal research that is critical to the development of treatments and cures for medical conditions such as AIDS, cancer and Parkinson's disease. Part of that commitment, he emphasized, is to protect and safeguard the university's researchers and to aggressively pursue all legal avenues to identify and bring those responsible to justice.