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Tainted Razors May Have Been Sent to Researcher

Nov 24, 2010 – 8:45 AM
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Lauren Frayer

Lauren Frayer Contributor

(Nov. 24) -- An animal rights group says it sent "bloody, AIDS-tainted razor blades" to a UCLA neuroscientist who's been a frequent target of extremist violence because of his research on monkeys.

The University of California at Los Angeles said it's investigating the incident and confirmed that David Jentsch, a UCLA professor of psychology, psychiatry and bio-behavioral sciences, received a package at his home earlier this month containing razor blades and threatening notes. There's no way to verify whether the discarded razors were indeed infected with HIV-positive blood, and the group didn't say how it obtained the blood.
AIDS-Tainted Razors Sent to UCLA Animal Researcher
Reed Saxon, AP
UCLA neuroscientist David Jentsch has been a frequent target of animal rights activists.

"How would Jentsch like the same thing he does to primates to be done to him?" the group, which calls itself the "UCLA Justice Department," wrote in a Web posting claiming responsibility for the razor blades. It accused the UCLA researcher of addicting primates to PCP and confining them to "puny, filthy cages."

"He should be living in hell which is where he will eventually end up desirably sooner rather than later," it said. The note said a similar package was sent to one of Jentsch's graduate students, but there's no evidence it was ever received.

Jentsch uses vervet monkeys in research UCLA describes as focusing on genetic and neurochemical mechanisms that influence cognition, impulse control and decision-making. His findings have provided insight into schizophrenia and methamphetamine and tobacco addiction in humans, and much of his work is funded by the federal government's National Institutes of Health.

But he's been the frequent target of violence by extremists who oppose the use of animals in laboratory research. An umbrella group that includes the UCLA Justice Department group also claimed responsibility for fire-bombing Jentsch's car outside his home in March 2009, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported. No one was injured, and afterward Jentsch led a campus march in support of animal testing. He has said that animal research is necessary to save human lives.

"They started with incinerating my car," Jentsch told CNN. "They have participated in monthly demonstrations outside of my house. Usually the threats are general; this one was very specific. They said they were going to cut my throat, and they named one of my students.

"I'm not afraid. I'm angry. It's so ridiculous in our society that people do this just because they don't like what you do," he said. The razor blades sent "about a week ago" were accompanied by a letter threatening "quite specific and heinous acts of violence to kill me," Jentsch said.

Since 2006, anonymous activists have claimed responsibility for at least 11 acts of sabotage, vandalism, criminal damage and firebombing against UCLA faculty or property, either on and off campus, the university said.
Filed under: Nation, Crime, Science
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