The campaign against the University of California began several months after an annual animal rights conference was held in Los Angeles. The "Animal Rights 2005 National Conference" featured representatives of the Primate Freedom Project (PFP) and Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, a radical animal rights group known for posting on its Web site the names, addresses, phone numbers and other personal information of people who work at companies doing business with its primary target, Huntingdon Life Sciences, a British-based research firm that runs an animal testing laboratory in New Jersey.
Jerry Vlasak, a trauma surgeon in Southern California who co-founded the Woodland Hills-based North American Animal Liberation Press Office, which shares information and statements from extremist cells that commit criminal activity, was also in attendance.
As one of the primary spokespeople for the extreme animal rights movement, Vlasak frequently speaks to media in support of acts of violence and intimidation carried out against UC scientists. For example, following the March 2009 arrest of four individuals in connection with incidents of harassment and intimidation against animal researchers at UC-Berkeley and UC-Santa Cruz (UCSC), including an attempted home invasion, Vlasak praised the foursome for the alleged actions: "We applaud anybody who steps up to the plate."
Vlasak regularly advocates killing humans in order to save animals during interviews with print and broadcast media. He has referred to the notion of murdering medical researchers in order to save laboratory animals as a "morally justifiable solution," and has stated that, "if animal abusers aren't going to stop perpetrating these types of atrocities, they ought to be stopped using whatever means necessary."
The tactics and ideology promoted by Vlasak have increasingly been put into practice by animal rights extremists targeting the UC system, and Vlasak blames targeted researchers for any harm done to them.
In response to the firebombings at UCSC in August 2008, Vlasak implied that researchers knowingly jeopardize the safety of their families by testing on animals: "It's regrettable that certain scientists are willing to put their families at risk by choosing to do wasteful animal experiments in this day and age," Vlasak said in one interview.
In another interview, Vlasak said, "If their father is willing to continue risking his livelihood in order to continue chopping up animals in a laboratory, then his children are old enough to recognize the consequences…This guy knows what he is doing. He knows that every day that he goes into the laboratory and hurts animals that it is unreasonable not to expect consequences." He also stated that, "The inconvenience and the suffering of any children or any family members pales in comparison to the suffering and oppression that goes on in these animal laboratories."
Following the firebombing of a UCLA primate researcher's home in February 2008, Vlasak stated, "This recent attack should come as no surprise to [Edythe] London; I wouldn't be astonished if she remains a target until she stops her heinous experiments upon these innocent and unconsenting primates."
Vlasak made some of his most incendiary comments about animal researchers during an animal rights conference in Los Angeles in 2003, when he told an audience that the assassination of scientists working in biomedical research would save millions of animals' lives. "I don't think you'd have to kill—assassinate--too many vivisectors," Vlasak continued, "before you would see a marked decrease in the amount of vivisection going on. And I think for five lives, ten lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, two million, ten million non-human lives."