UC Reacts To Attacks On Animal Research

Harrassment of Animal Researchers and Their Families Prompts UC To Seek Injunction

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The University of California is seeking a permanent injunction against five individuals and three anti-animal research groups in an attempt to prevent violence against researchers across the university.

The injunction is being sought after Los Angeles County Superior Court granted the university a temporary restraining order last month on behalf of UCLA, against five individuals, the Animal Liberation Front, Animal Liberation Brigade and the UCLA Primate Freedom Project. The order aims to protect students and employees involved in animal research across the 10 UC campuses, said Wendy Sugg, an attorney representing the regents.

The temporary restraining order was prompted by incidents of violence and harassment against UCLA researchers and their families that have occurred, including attempted firebombs,

threatening phone calls and e-mails.

"Obviously, as shown by recent events, there is a need for a restraining order," Sugg said.

Similar acts have recently occurred in Berkeley, where activists have sounded bullhorns, broken pottery and thrown rocks at windows of the homes of several professors, according to campus spokesperson Robert Sanders.

Campus officials said they are seeking a restraining order against those allegedly involved in these incidents, though more evidence needs to be gathered.

In the suit filed by the regents, the temporary restraining order states that the identified individuals and groups cannot harm university employees and student researchers, or their property.

The order states that those groups and their affiliates are prohibited from vandalizing, damaging or picketing outside the homes of researchers and their families.

The hearing on a preliminary injunction has been set for mid-April, according to attorneys handling the case.

However, animal rights activists said the Animal Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Brigade are comprised of anonymous members, rendering a restraining order useless.

"These people are already breaking laws," said Jerry Vlasak, a medical doctor and spokesperson for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office. "I can't see that these restraining orders are going to be particularly effective."

Christine Garcia, an attorney for the individuals and the UCLA Primate Freedom Project in the case, said she does not believe the injunction against the individuals is warranted.

"There's absolutely no connection between the people listed on the restraining order and any of the wrongful acts alleged," she said.

Sanders said the process of seeking injunctions against the activists does not mean they must stop demonstrating, but that they cannot personally attack individual researchers.

"We're not trying to shut anybody up here ... They can exercise their right to free speech," Sanders said. "But these are extremists and they're going beyond free speech."


Angelica Dongallo covers higher education. Contact her at [email protected]

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