UCLA Professor Stands Up to Eco-Terrorists

Posted: November 24, 2010 in Eco-Terrorists

UCLA professor stands up to violent animal rights activists

April 13, 2009

J. David Jentsch organizes a campus rally April 22 of those who believe biomedical testing on animals saves human lives. His car was set on fire March 7, allegedly by opponents of testing.

J. David Jentsch organizes a campus rally April 22 of those who believe biomedical testing on animals saves human lives. His car was set on fire March 7, 2009 by opponenets of testing

As soon as he heard his car alarm blare and saw the orange glow through his bedroom window, UCLA neuroscientist J. David Jentsch knew that his fears had come true.

His 2006 Volvo, parked next to his Westside house, had been set ablaze and destroyed in an early morning attack March 7. Jentsch had become the latest victim in a series of violent incidents targeting University of California scientists who use animals in biomedical research.

Obviously, someone who does the work I do in this environment expects that it’s possible, indeed likely, that it would have happened,” said Jentsch, who uses vervet monkeys in his research on treatments for schizophrenia and drug addiction. Before the attack, he had received no threats and had taken only limited precautions, including keeping his photo off the Internet.

“I’ve been as careful as you can be without being paranoid,” he said.

After similar incidents, other UCLA scientists have become almost reclusive as security and public curiosity around them grew. Three years ago, another UCLA neuroscientist, weary of harassment and threats to his family, abandoned animal research altogether, sending an e-mail to an animal rights website that read: “You win.”

But Jentsch has decided to push back.

Jentsch, an associate professor of psychology and psychiatry, has founded an organization at UCLA to voice support for research that uses animals in what he calls a humane, carefully regulated way. He is organizing a pro-research campus rally April 22, a date chosen because animal rights activists, who contend that his research involves the torture and needless killing of primates, already had scheduled their own UCLA protest that day.

“People always say: ‘Don’t respond. If you respond, that will give [the attackers] credibility,’ ” Jentsch, 37, said in a recent interview in his UCLA office. “But being silent wasn’t making us feel safer. And it’s a moot point if they are coming to burn your car anyway, whether you give them credibility or not.”

The incidents have traumatized many professors and students on the Westwood campus, well beyond the circle of those directly affected, said Jentsch, who was not injured in the car fire.

Source:LA Times

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