WASHINGTON (CN) – The Goldman Sachs Group says it’s being harassed and threatened by two groups of animal rights extremists who use bullhorns and obnoxious protests to accuse the firm and its employees of “earning blood money” and “torturing puppies.”
Goldman Sachs and Michael Paese, the head of its U.S. government relations division, seek an injunction in Superior Court to keep members of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) and Defenders of Animal Rights Today and Tomorrow (DARTT) from harassing and threatening Goldman Sachs and its employees.
SHAC and DARTT were formed to protest the British company called Huntingdon Life Sciences, which they accuse of “mistreating and killing dogs in connection with the performance of research related to the development of medications to treat a variety of serious illnesses,” according to the complaint.
The two groups violently protest and harass not only Huntingdon, but companies that do business with Huntingdon, including Wachovia, the New York Stock Exchange and Novartis, according to Goldman Sachs. Among these “secondary targets” is Fortress Investments Group, an investment company that does business with Goldman Sachs.
Goldman Sachs claims this makes it a “tertiary target” for the groups.
It says that members of SHAC and DARTT have engaged “in loud and obnoxious demonstrations not only at the building that houses GS’s office in the District of Columbia, but also at the residence of plaintiff Michael Paese and his neighbors.”
The complaint adds: “Defendants have also carried signs that allege – falsely – that GS is responsible for the murder and torture of dogs and other animals. … In one instance, one of the defendants accosted a pregnant GS employee as she was trying to enter the building to begin work.”
Paese says he’s been harassed at his home by SHAC demonstrators who blow bullhorns “right outside his front door” and accuse him of earning “blood money” and “torturing puppies.”
Paese says he’s a devoted dog owner and would never hurt an animal. He says the protesters frighten his neighbors and his two beagles.
The complaint cites a litany of cases in which the defendant organizations and their members committed acts of violence, including bombings and attacks with baseball bats. “(I)n addition, several SHAC members have been convicted of serious crimes,” the complaint states. “For example, in 2006, six SHAC members in the United States were convicted on charges of animal enterprise terrorism and interstate stalking, convictions that were affirmed by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in June 2010. In October 2010, a judge in the United Kingdom sentenced five SHAC members for what the judge referred to as ‘a campaign of intimidation, violence and terror’ against HLS, which included phone calls, threats, vandalism and hoax bombs sent to the homes of HLS staff. One year earlier, in 2009, another court in the United Kingdom convicted seven SHAC activists on blackmailing charges.”
Goldman Sachs and Paese seek an injunction restraining the groups and its members from violence and threats and preventing them from trespassing on private property and publishing or communicating threatening and intimidating messages to Goldman Sachs’ employees.
Defendants include the two groups and their alleged members Aaron Labow, Michael Weber, Adam Ortberg, and an unknown number of John Does.
Goldman Sachs is represented by William Nussbaum with Hogan Lovells.