WASHINGTON – A radical animal rights activist shocked members of the U.S. Senate this week by advocating the murder of those conducting medical research.
Jerry Vlasak, spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front, told the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works that killing medical researchers was “morally justified” to save laboratory animals.
Vlasak compared the life of lab animals to African American slaves and the Jewish victims of Nazi concentration camps.
He made his comments while defending a similar statement, made to the news media last year: “I don’t think you’d have to kill – assassinate – too many vivisectors before you would see a marked decrease in the amount of vivisection going on. And I think for five lives, 10 lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, 2 million, 10 million non-human lives.”
“It is so revolting to hear what you say about murder – these aren’t extermination camps,” said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ. “What’s being done, whether you like it or not, is to try and improve the quality of life for human beings. I believe that laboratory tests involving animals can be necessary and important for the advancement of science and medicine and the protection of public health.”
The hearing was called to investigate the animal rights group SHAC, whose mission is to force the closure of one of America’s largest independent contract research organizations, Huntongton Life Sciences. Recently, the New York Stock Exchange abruptly postponed its long-planned listing of HLS’s holding company, Life Sciences Research Inc. following threats against the exchange made by SHAC.
Sen. James Inhofe, R-OK, told the FBI’s counterterrorism Deputy Assistant Director John E. Lewis, who also testified, that he plans to introduce legislation that will grant law enforcement greater flexibility in tracking and prosecuting those who break the law.
“That’s not a maybe,” he vowed after hearing Vlasak. “That’s a definite.”
Another witness, Mark Bibi, general counsel for LSRI, recounted how his private property was vandalized by SHAC.
“The car was covered with animal rights graffiti,” he said. “Warning messages were spray painted all over my house.”
Witness Skip Boruchin of NASDAQ, who was targeted by SHAC for having a business relationship with HLS, reported the group slandered him as a sex offender and harassed his elderly mother while she was residing in an assisted living home.
LSRI reportedly lost millions of dollars in business and spent over $1 million on legal costs. Its share price was battered.
Vlasak described himself as a “former vivisector” and the press officer of the North American Liberation Front.
“The actions of underground activists who care enough about animals to speak out in no uncertain terms, and at times to risk their own lives and freedom, have a message that is most urgent and one that deserves to be heard and understood,” he said. “Often underground animal liberation speech and actions either go unreported in the media or are uncritically vilified as ‘violent’ or ‘terrorist,’ with no attention paid to the needless and senseless suffering that industries and individuals gratuitously inflict on animals.”
He claimed HLS kills 500 animals a day and “will test anything for anybody. They carry out experiments which involve poisoning animals with household products, pesticides, drugs, herbicides, food colorings and additives, sweeteners and genetically modified organisms, oven cleaner and make up.”
Vlasak said the company was infiltrated in 1997 by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and found information that forced HLS to plead guilty to animal cruelty violations and pay a $50,000 fine.
He said it was important to realize “SHAC is not one group, or hierarchical entity, but an ideologically aligned group consisting on thousands of people who gather in various groups to protest the atrocities perpetrated by HLS.”
Vlasak celebrated the fact that HLS has been brought to the brink of financial ruin.