7:06 AM | April 22, 2009
UCLA is bracing today for a pair of dueling rallies over the
controversial issue of scientific research that uses primates and
other animals. Officials said they are not expecting violent
confrontations between the groups but are prepared nonetheless to
have a substantial police presence.
The first rally, scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. at the corner
of Westwood Boulevard and Le Conte Avenue and then move on to the
campus, is sponsored by opponents of animal research who have long
complained that UCLA scientists ignore the animals' suffering. Among
the expected speakers is Michael A. Budkie, executive director of
Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN), an Ohio-based group that is in
the forefront of protests timed as part of an annual observance of
World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week.
The next rally, scheduled an hour later at the same spot, is more
unusual. It is organized by a new group, UCLA Pro-Test, made up of
faculty, students and staff who say they support the humane use of
animals in research aimed at finding cures for human diseases. The
pro-research forces also want to protest against a series of
unsolved arsons and vandalism at UC faculty homes and vehicles over
the past three years. Among the expected speakers is UCLA neuro-scientist
J. David Jentsch, whose car was set ablaze and destroyed last month
and who then decided to create the pro-research group. Jentsch uses
monkeys in his research on schizophrenia and drug addiction, and
although he kills some for postmortem exams, he says the animals do
On Monday, authorities announced that two animal rights activists
had been indicted for harassing and threatening UCLA researchers,
but the pair were not charged with the arsons. UCLA officials said
they were pleased that arrests had been made in some of the cases.
-- Larry Gordon.
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