The University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) succeeded last week in getting a temporary restraining order against five vociferous animal-rights activists, as well as organizations such as the Animal Liberation Front, who have claimed responsibility for various property crimes and threats against researchers.
The ruling stipulates that the activists must stay farther than 15 metres from researchers and remove the scientists’ addresses from their websites. UCLA spokesman Phil Hampton called the ruling “a clear victory in the continuing process of UCLA protecting its researchers”. The university will seek permanent restraining orders in a hearing on 12 March.
“They are trying to mix above-ground protestors that never do anything illegal in with the Animal Liberation Front and the underground organizations that have flooded homes and broken windows,” says Jerry Vlasak, press officer for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office. “The two groups are completely separate; they don’t know who each other are.”
There is also a News story in the same issue of Nature, 451; 1034-1035 (2008) ‘Animal rights activists invade Europe’, which reports that a “rash of vandalism, intimidation and arson across continental Europe in 2008 is evidence of a worrying new wave of animal-rights extremism being exported from Britain”, as more stringent law-enforcement is making it harder for these people to carry out their activities there. Several examples are provided in the News story, and there are predictably heated exchanges in the online comments to the article – for a reasoned view on animal experimentation in general, see the UK Research Defence Society.