Judge holds extremist in contempt for harassing UCLA faculty

An anti–animal research extremist has been found in contempt of court for violating an injunction prohibiting the harassment of UCLA personnel.

Pamelyn Ferdin, a well-known activist, violated the injunction by distributing fliers that included UCLA researchers' photographs, home addresses and phone numbers during demonstrations at the residences of faculty members on June 14, a judge ruled today. After a Nov. 5–6 hearing in a Santa Monica courtroom, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge John L. Segal scheduled sentencing for Nov. 18. Ferdin could serve up to five days in jail and/or pay a fine of up to $1,000.

"It's important to send a message that the tactics used by anti–animal research extremists are illegal and will not be tolerated," UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said. "Promoting violence and harassment is not free speech, and we intend to continue the vigorous enforcement of the injunction designed to protect the UCLA community."

A preliminary injunction, granted in April at UCLA's request, prohibits groups and individuals working in conjunction with defendants from distributing personal information about researchers. It also prohibits those demonstrators from coming within 50 feet of the residences of UCLA personnel involved in animal research; at night, this restriction increases to 150 feet.

UCLA sought the injunction in response to a campaign of harassment that has included firebombings and attempted firebombings at private residences, vandalism, and multiple threats of violence. In June, extremists claimed responsibility for the firebombing of a UCLA commuter van, and in August, the home of a University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher and the vehicle of a colleague were firebombed on the same day.

Ferdin, of Malibu, Calif., is frequently seen at demonstrations on the UCLA campus and at the homes of researchers. She is president of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA, an activist group whose members have been jailed for illegal activity directed at Huntingdon Life Sciences, a private laboratory. Several of the individuals named in the UCLA injunction have been the subjects of temporary restraining orders and injunctions prohibiting them from harassing employees affiliated with various public and private entities.

In September, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation sponsored by the 10-campus University of California system that provides law enforcement with new tools to protect academic researchers and their families from harassment.

UCLA remains committed to continuing research that advances science in the interest of alleviating suffering for millions of people with serious medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and AIDS. Research involving animals is subject to strict federal laws and university regulations.

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