UCLA campus police and the FBI are investigating an Animal Liberation Front claim that extremists opposed to the use of animals in laboratory research were responsible for torching a UCLA vanpool vehicle last week in Irvine.
"I am deeply disturbed that, yet again, extremists have resorted to acts of violence in an attempt to achieve their goal to end all laboratory research involving animals," UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said. "In this most recent apparent act of terror against UCLA, the extremists have crossed yet another threshold and directed violence at individuals and property not associated with animal research."
Block added: "We cannot and we will not let the behavior of misguided individuals deter us in performing research that is conducted with strict federal oversight and that leads to lifesaving treatments. What we do intend to do is continue to aggressively pursue every legal means possible of exposing them and putting a stop to their deplorable tactics."
Earlier this year, UCLA won a court order against extremists involved in a campaign of harassment directed at faculty and administrators who conduct or oversee research involving laboratory animals. A preliminary injunction prohibits three groups — including the Animal Liberation Front — and five individuals from coming within 50 feet of the residences of UCLA personnel involved in animal research during any demonstration. It also prohibits the posting of personal information about UCLA personnel on websites maintained by the groups and individuals. The harassment has included attempted firebombings at private residences, vandalism and multiple threats of violence.
The FBI and others law enforcement agencies are investigating the incidents as acts of domestic terrorism.
The unoccupied UCLA vanpool vehicle was at a park-and-ride facility in Irvine when city fire and police officials responded to the fire after 3 a.m. on June 3. Nobody was injured; damage to the van was extensive.
Those with information about the criminal activities of animal rights extremists are encouraged to contact the FBI at 310-477-6565.
Background on animal research at UCLA: www.newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/animal-research.aspx