We live in a country that grants Americans freedom of speech via the First Amendment. Activists have been exercising this right for years creating real change for the unheard and the underserved. However, all too often, when change threatens the influx of money to big businesses activists find themselves under attack. Animal rights activists who are members of the group Progress For Science is learning this unfortunate fact first hand. They are being targeted for speaking out for animals but are now fighting back. Some of these peaceful, law-abiding activists are being run through the judicial system, where thousands of dollars are being spent on court fees for silently protesting animal experiments at UCLA. Specifically, three Los Angeles activists, members of Progress For Science, a Los Angeles-based grassroots campaign that works year-round in an effort to end experiments on nonhuman primates at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), were targeted during a recent P4S silent demonstration and outreach in the neighborhood of a UCLA employee who experiments on monkeys. Three of the P4S activists were singled out and restraining orders were sought against them. The charges were later dropped after the judge indicated the charges were unfounded. are demanding that their legal fees are returned and that sanctions are given for the attempt to use lawsuits as a method of stifling free speech. The group released a video that went viral (see below) where one of their routine and peaceful vigils for the primates who are being subjected to animal research at UCLA was met with an angry group of vivisectionists and vivisection supporters.
As a means of defending and upholding the rights of activists’ free speech rights, one of the three filed an Anti-SLAPP case, which allows for the recovery of legal fees if the legal system is used to stifle First Amendment Speech. P4S is now engaged in a series of appeals and court proceedings to protect activists’ right to protest. This is costing thousands of dollars—money that Progress for Science doesn’t have.
As the P4S page explains, they are fighting the threat being passive about a society where power and authority are both abused and deemed more important than justice. They are standing up against having the judicial system to be abused as a tool to harass activists. Activists who are legally advocating for justice on behalf of the animals being experimented on are being harassed, so they are standing up in the face of such repression. The group maintains that its ” horrible enough that vivisectors at UCLA get paid with our tax dollars to drug and kill monkeys and other animals; it is simply unacceptable for UCLA and its staff members to also harass and aim to silence those who work to end such violence and scientific fraud”. They are currently raising funds to pay for the mounting legal fees. They have vowed that all of the funds will be used to meet the legal monetary requirements to continue with their legal proceedings. None of the money raised is going to paying their legal team- only to cover the costs of the court proceedings. Any left over funds that have been donated will be returned to Progress for Science’s general funds and go directly to helping end animal experimentation in the University of California system. Los Angeles activists have appeared in the funding video, including Russell Simmons long time #1 animal rights activist Simone Reyes. If you believe in protecting the first amendment, there is a link below to donate to this fund.