Last weekend, Governor Arnold Schwareneggar signed the AB2296, Researcher Protection Act, which
enacts a number of measures to protect researchers from attacks by animal rights extremists and others. This bill was supported by the University of California system and was introduced by Assembly Member Gene Mullin (D – South San Francisco).
UC President, Mark G. Yudof said:
“University of California researchers are leaders in scientific and technological breakthroughs that are enhancing the lives of Californians and all Americans. This law will provide law enforcement with some of the tools necessary to help protect academic researchers so they can continue to perform ground-breaking research without the threat of violence. I want to publicly thank Governor Schwarzenegger, the Legislature and particularly Assemblymember Mullin for their leadership on this important legislation, which sends a strong message of California’s support for academic research and innovation and its unwillingness to tolerate violence against researchers or their families.”
The new law makes it a misdemeanor to publish information about an academic researcher and his or her family, with the intent that another person commit a crime involving violence or the threat of violence; and it makes it a misdemeanor to trespass on the property of an academic researcher with the intent of chilling or interfering with their academic freedom.
AB2296 is particularly important given the firebombings at the homes of two UC Santa Cruz researchers in August. The bill does not single out animal researchers, however, and could help any academic facing threats or violent harassment as a result of his or her work.