Today, the UCLA chapter of Pro-Test held its second rally in support of animal research. With as many as 400 or so supporters in attendance, it looks like it was another great success! Here are a couple of early reports on the event:
On a beautiful sunny day in Los Angeles, Pro-Test for Science organizers arrived at the junction of Le Conte and Westwood, on the edge of the UCLA campus, with armfuls of placards in support of animal research. Within ten minutes every placard had found a new owner as hundreds of scientists, students and members of the public showed up to support the cause. Those gathering chatted together, sharing their reasons for attending the rally.
The mood was one of excitement and passion. Those participating exchanged ideas for public outreach in the future - sharing the best of ways of explaining to the public the clear connection between animal research and medical benefits. The rally continued to snake along Westwood and up towards Wilson Plaza.
Organizers staged the rally with the goal defending the right of researchers to pursue their work free from harassment by extremists and to providing the public with a better understanding of animal research.
Carrying neon poster-board signs bearing slogans like "Animal research = medical advances" and "Science, not violence," demonstrators rallied at the southern edge of UCLA before marching to the center of campus for speeches. Some passing students found themselves greeted by marching friends who cajoled them to follow along.
"Join the fight!" one demonstrator called to a friend, who rushed to join the pack.
"We're trying to defend and advocate for science itself," Jentsch said. "A small but vocal and violent minority of people have decided that they want to seek an end to animal research, including its contributions to medical research. If we continue what we're doing here today, people will understand what's at risk, and that effort will fail."
A rally in defense of scientists who use animals in research drew between 300-400 supporters to the campus of the University of California Los Angeles today.
The rally, organized by the group Pro-Test for Science, was a follow-up to a similar rally at UCLA last year. Speakers at today's rally included organizer and neuroscientist David Jentsch, who formed Pro-Test after his car was firebombed by animal rights activists last year; Kevin Quinn, a branch chief at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health; Michael Steinmetz, a program officer at the U.S. National Eye Institute; and UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor Scott Waugh.
Jentsch said that one animal rights activist protested the rally.
As a result, Jentsch said, animal rights groups have stepped down their attacks on UCLA researchers.
"These groups never expected that anybody on the scientific side would challenge them openly when they came to campus and marched around, so when they come to campus and we're there, it's quite remarkable - it has a chilling effect on their behavior," Jentsch said.
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