Dueling rallies at UCLA on animal research

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Hundreds of people rallied at UCLA Wednesday in support of using animals in experiments they say have led to medical breakthroughs to find cures for cancer and other diseases. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez was there; he brings us this report.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Every year, when opponents of these experiments rallied and marched through campus, scientists said they'd lock their lab doors and stay inside. Not this year.

Protesters (chanting): No more threats, no more fear, animal research wanted here.

Guzman-Lopez: Psychiatrist David Jentsch organized the rally. Earlier this year extremists said they firebombed his car in an effort to get him to stop experiments on monkeys.

David Jentsch: What you see around you are all the people toiling every day in labs to make these discoveries, and they're here because they're not willing to face the intimidation anymore.

Guzman-Lopez: Michael Budkie of the group Stop Animal Exploitation Now helped to stage a much smaller rally on the opposite side of the street.

Michael Budkie: The bottom line is that animal research happens because people get paid to do it. Laboratories like University of California, Los Angeles bring in well over $100 million a year for the performance of animal experiments.

Guzman-Lopez: While a UCLA spokesman couldn't confirm that amount, he did say that nearly a quarter of the school's scientific research projects involve animals.

No one on Budkie's side of the street called for violence against scientists. But some defended it. UCLA law student Jill Ryther of the campus Animal Law Society says violent tactics are giving groups like hers a bad name.

Jill Ryther: We want to do this event today and we've been getting a lot of flack for what's going on. People think animal activists are violent and crazy, and we're not.

Guzman-Lopez: A 61-year-old woman and a 22-year-old man entered not guilty pleas this week on charges they'd intimidated researchers.