Cold temperatures and a jeer or two from neighbors didn't deter Jeremy Beckham from leading a silent protest outside the home of University of Utah researcher Allesandra Angelucci on Sunday night.
Beckham, a sophomore at the U., is an animal-rights activist with strong opinions about the primate research that Angelucci conducts. Beckham, leader of the Utah Primate Freedom Project, hopes the protest will force University officials to open up a public forum for discussion about the research.
are not going to relent until they become open about this issue," Beckham said.
No-trespassing signs flanked a driveway which leads uphill to Angelucci's stately east Salt Lake City residence. On the street below, about 25 protesters held candles and signs proclaiming the immorality of primate research. Flashing images of caged monkeys lit the street from the four 100-inch screens of the "Tiger Truck" - essentially a moving van mounted with giant TVs. The truck was on loan to Beckham from the Showing Animals Respect
and Kindness organization. The images displayed on its screens were captioned with brief insults like: "Angelucci gets rich abusing animals" and "Be advised: Ms. Angelucci has a violent nature. Keep pets away from her." None of the images, however, were from the University of Utah, Beckham said.
Beckham claims that the research at the U. includes drilling holes in the heads of primates while they are fully conscious. He is not swayed by the argument that primate research benefits mankind.
they really cared about people so much, then why don't they open up and talk about it? They really don't care about people. They only care about the prestige of their university," Beckham said.
U. spokeswoman Coralie Alder said Beckham has a right to voice his opinion but expressed concerns about the protests.
"We support the right of our faculty members to pursue their work free from intimidation," Alder said. Research at the U. complies with the ethical standards set forth by the National Institutes
of Health, she said.
"There is a lot of oversight with our labs that we follow strictly," said Alder.
This was the second protest outside Angelucci's home since August 2004 when she received a $400,000 grant for primate research. Beckham made headlines in Jan. 2004 when he convinced a state records committee that research proposals, known as protocols, are public documents. The documents would, Beckham believed, detail the alleged animal abuse. The committee ordered University officials to release the documents.