UCLA researcher Edythe London: Targeted by the ALF
Didn’t want to let this story get lost on Super Tuesday night. It’s a travesty that shouldn’t get ignored:
Authorities are investigating a fire caused by a device left today at a house owned by a UCLA professor who conducts animal research — the second time the house has been targeted in less than four months.
The device was placed this morning on the front porch of a Westside house owned by Edythe London, FBI officials in Los Angeles said.
London, a professor of psychiatry and bio-behavioral sciences and of molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, uses lab monkeys in her research on nicotine addiction.
FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller confirmed that officials with the Joint Terrorism Task Force were investigating the incident. “It was ignited and caused damage to the property,” Eimiller said. “No one was home at the time and nobody was hurt.” Eimiller said no one had claimed responsibility. But the agency is investigating the claim that the Animal Liberation Front used a garden hose to flood London’s house Oct. 20 in an attempt to stop her animal experiments.
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block condemned today’s vandalism.
“These kinds of deplorable tactics have no place in a civilized society,” Block said. “UCLA is working closely with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to bring to justice those responsible for this and other acts of violence against our researchers.”
For years, I have watched with growing concern as my UCLA colleagues have been subjected to increasing harassment, violence and threats by animal rights extremists. In the last 15 months, these attempts at intimidation have included the placement of a Molotov cocktail-type device at a colleague’s home and another under a colleague’s car — thankfully, they didn’t ignite — as well as rocks thrown through windows, phone and e-mail threats, banging on doors in the middle of the night and, on several occasions, direct confrontations with young children.
Then, several weeks ago, an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about the work I have been doing to understand and treat nicotine addition among adolescents informed readers that some of my research is done on primates. I was instantly on my guard. Would I be the next victim? Would the more extremist elements of the animal rights movement now turn their sights on me?
The answer came this week when the Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for vandalism that caused between $20,000 and $30,000 worth of damage to my home after extremists broke a window and inserted a garden hose, flooding the interior. Later, in a public statement addressed to me, the extremists said they had been torn between flooding my house or setting it afire. Maybe I should feel lucky.
Having come to the United States as the child of Holocaust survivors who had lost almost everything, I appreciate that perhaps “only in America” could I have fulfilled my dream of becoming a biomedical scientist, supported in doing research to reduce human suffering. But it is difficult for me to understand why the same country that was founded on the idea of freedom for all gives rise to an organization like the Animal Liberation Front, a shadowy group identified by the FBI as a domestic terrorism threat, which threatens the safety of researchers engaged in animal studies that are crucial to moving medicine forward.
Her call to arms concludes:
Thousands of other scientists use laboratory animals in other research, giving hope to those afflicted with a wide variety of ailments. Already, one scientist at UCLA has announced that he will not pursue potentially important studies involving how the brain receives information from the retina, for fear of the violence that animal rights radicals might visit on his family. We must not allow these extremists to stop important research that advances the human condition.
Where’s the PETA condemnation?
Cue the chirping crickets.
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London’s e-mail: [email protected]