Academics & Faculty

Judge awards injunction to protect researchers from harassment

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A court has ordered that judgment be awarded to UCLA in its lawsuit in protection of its researchers. A permanent injunction will be issued to protect researchers from the harassment of extremists opposed to the use of animals in research.
 
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Terry B. Friedman ruled May 27 on UCLA's request for judgment in the university's favor and ordered that a permanent injunction be issued. He ruled that the defendants "engaged in harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and intentional interference with business relations."
 
The defendants did not dispute evidence submitted by UCLA, in effect admitting that their harassment of UCLA scientists violated the scientists' rights.
 
"This permanent injunction is an important deterrent and sends a strong message to extremists: UCLA and the courts will not tolerate unlawful tactics to advance personal beliefs," Chancellor Gene Block said. "UCLA will continue to vigorously enforce the injunction and protect our researchers from harassment that falls outside the bounds of free speech. We remain committed to research involving laboratory animals, which is heavily monitored and critical to developing treatments and cures for a wide variety of ailments, including AIDS, Alzheimer's disease and cancer."
 
Since 2003, UCLA researchers and administrators have been subjected to an organized campaign of harassment intended to halt the use of animals in research. Personal information about campus personnel has been posted on extremist websites, inciting the harassment. The harassment has included demonstrations at private homes, sometimes with extremists banging on doors and windows in the middle of the night, using megaphones to shout threats and epithets, and wearing masks to conceal their identities. Anonymous extremists also have claimed responsibility for placing incendiary devices on the doorsteps of private residences and under vehicles, torching a UCLA commuter van, and vandalizing property.
 
The injunction prohibits the named defendants from coming within 50 feet of the residences of UCLA personnel involved in animal research during any demonstration; at night, this restriction increases to 150 feet. It also prohibits the posting of personal information about UCLA personnel on websites maintained by the groups and individuals. Those failing to comply with the injunction are subject to contempt of court charges.
 
The injunction also prohibits the defendants from committing violence or threatening violence against UCLA personnel who conduct or support animal research, vandalizing or threatening to vandalize their property, and violating local noise ordinances. The injunction prohibits the defendants from directing any of the prohibited activities at animal research personnel affiliated with other University of California campuses, who also have been targeted by extremists.
 
The defendants are groups known as the UCLA Primate Freedom Project, the Animal Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Brigade and five individuals believed to affiliate with these groups: Linda Faith Greene, Hillary Roney, Kevin Olliff, Ramin Saber and Tim Rusmisel. The injunction also applies to those acting in concert with the defendants.
 
UCLA filed suit and a judge issued a temporary restraining order in February 2008. The order was converted to preliminary injunction in April 2008.
 
Since then, personal information about UCLA researchers has been removed from extremist websites, and extremists have been arrested for violating the terms of the court order.
 
In addition, the Los Angeles County district attorney announced in April that a grand jury had indicted Greene and Olliff on stalking and other felony charges in connection with the harassment of UCLA researchers and employees of POM Wonderful Juice Co.
 
UCLA police, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies continue to investigate six separate acts of domestic terrorism directed at UCLA personnel. They include suspected acts of arson and attempted arson on private vehicles and residences and one case of vandalism. In each case, anonymous extremists opposed to the use of animals in research have claimed responsibility.
 
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