Police investigate claims that extremists targeted commuter vans
By Phil Hampton October 20, 2008 Category: Campus News
UCLA police are investigating claims that anti–animal research extremists inserted unfired shotgun shells into the tailpipes of UCLA commuter vans.
A preliminary analysis has shown that the process described is very unlikely to cause damage or injury, police said. No evidence has been found to support the extremists' claims, according to police.
Separate claims were posted Oct. 6 and Oct. 17 on a website operated by the Animal Liberation Front.
Since claiming responsibility in June for the firebombing a UCLA commuter van parked overnight at a park-and-ride facility in Irvine, Calif., extremists have issued several additional claims of vandalism or theft. These claims have been unfounded.
As a precaution, all commuter vans are being checked as they report to the fleet services garage. Commuter van passengers and drivers were reminded in early October of safety measures. The measures include checking underneath vehicles for suspicious devices and remaining alert about suspicious activity.
UCLA operates more than 150 vanpools serving approximately 2,400 riders in six Southern California counties.
"The tactics used by these extremists opposed to the use of laboratory animals in research are beyond reprehensible," said Roberto Peccei, UCLA vice chancellor for research. "It is difficult to put into words our outright contempt and disgust at terrorists targeting not only researchers but also commuters and property that are in no way associated with animal research. Violence, threats and harassment are not free speech."
Peccei emphasized that UCLA remains committed to humane research involving laboratory animals, which is critical to the development of new diagnoses, treatments and cures for a wide variety of medical conditions, including cancer, AIDS and Parkinson's disease. Peccei said research involving laboratory animals is subject to strict federal laws and university guidelines to ensure humane care and scientific necessity.