Pro-Test, an organisation that favours animal testing, claims that it has been subjected to death threats and violence in the run up to its march through Oxford tomorrow.
The group has given a statement to the Thames Valley Police who are currently attempting to trace the sender of two emails of violent content. In a separate incident two members of the committee were approached and threatened by an individual on Cornmarket Street while promoting Pro-Test literature on a stall.
Tom Holder, a spokesperson for Pro-Test, explained, “The police are taking both incidents seriously. We were initially sent an email, which mistakenly suggested that the UK was still involved in cosmetic testing. We sent a polite reply to this email correcting this mistake. The individual then replied, simply saying, ‘Fuck off’. Then a second reply was sent in which a more serious threat was issued. However given how easy it is to send anonymous emails we expect this incident to turn out to be a childish prank.”
The other incident on Cornmarket Street occurred when Kevin Elliot, a disabled member of Pro-Test, and a colleague were distributing leaflets from a stall in the afternoon.
Elliot said, “We were handing out leaflets and a guy came over to us who seemed to be interested, and asked what we were doing. He suddenly started swearing at us, and threw some of our leaflets at us and gave one of us a shove. He turned to me and said, ‘Good job you’re using crutches’ and kicked over a table, which went flying.
“We didn’t do anything either to provoke or to retaliate them. As he was walking away, I shouted ‘It’s going to take a lot more than that to stop us.’”
He added, “I was sort of expecting it, I think largely the animal rights lobby know they have lost the argument and only a small minority would use violence, who are upset about the idea that we exist. All we were doing was exercising free speech.
“What’s important is that we get the message out…I’m happy to face that kind of person again. What scares me is the idea of being silenced, that would be more frightening to me than facing any number of physical threats.”
There have been worries that animal rights activists might target the planned march this weekend. It is expected that hundreds of people will turn up in support of the group’s aims, which will process through Oxford from Broad Street at noon. Laurie Pycroft, the teenage founder of Pro-Test claimed that the rally is to “show that students, scientists and the public at large will not be cowed by animal extremists.”
by Natasha Vashisht