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Money Guru Sues Animal Rights ‘Extremists’

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Money-manager BlackRock claims that animal rights "extremists" have terrorized its employees because the global asset management firm has indirect links to Huntingdon Life Sciences, which tests pharmaceutical, agricultural and veterinary products on animals.

Blackrock sued Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty and three of its members in Superior Court.

Blackrock claims that since its inception in 1999, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty has pepper sprayed a Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) employee "in full view of his family," fire-bombed cars, and beaten a HLS managing director with ax handles outside his home.

It claims that the FBI has identified Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) as a terrorist group and that its members have been criminally convicted.

BlackRock claims that SHAC's "sole aim" has been to drive HLS out of business and that it has "renounced traditional, lawful, nonviolent methods of accomplishing its goal."

"SHAC's campaign targets HLS, its employees, business associates, and investors," the complaint states. "More recently, SHAC and its co-conspirators have identified and pursued tertiary targets, which are entities that have absolutely nothing to do with HLS but who have done business with one or more of SHAC's secondary targets."

Blackrock sued California residents Nicola Sheen, Tyler Lang and Tim Rusmisel as "co-conspirators in a national and international conspiracy to drive out of business Huntington Life Sciences ... by harassing companies and people with only attenuated connections to HLS."

It claims that Rusmisel "has already been permanently enjoined by a California state court from among other things, any act of violence or making any threat of violence against any employee of the Regents of the University of California or protesting or demonstrating at the homes of such employees."

It adds: "Defendants Sheen and Lang currently are being prosecuted criminally for their animal rights protests at the homes of employees of the University of California at Los Angeles."

SHAC turned its attention to BlackRock after other secondary targets, including Goldman Sachs and Wachovia, obtained injunctions against the group, according to the complaint.

"Enjoined from harassing these other companies, SHAC has shifted its efforts to BlackRock because BlackRock owns stock in AstraZeneca, a global pharmaceutical company that allegedly has a business relationship with HLS.

"Beginning in or about January 2011, SHAC and its co-conspirators launched a campaign against BlackRock and its employees. SHAC has, in particular, targeted BlackRock employee Linda Arnette, conducting no fewer than thirteen demonstrations at her home in Los Angeles. SHAC's website displays pictures and descriptions of their protests and 'home visits' against BlackRock and its employees and names the targeted employees for all the public to see," the complaint states.

BlackRock says protesters stood outside the home Arnette shares with her husband and 2-year-old daughter, and called her a "kitty cat killer," a "puppy killer" and accused of her of punching beagles in the face.

Arnette works as an asset manager for BlackRock.

In late August, BlackRock says, SHAC's protest at Arnette's home "included the threat of violence, all the more chilling in light of SHAC's history."

That protest included this threat, according to the complaint: "'There is a whole other aspect to this movement that you do not want to have to say hello to. Believe me, they have your address, and they come when the sun is not out. And they do not ask, and they do not use bullhorns, and the cops don't ever find them. ... The history of this campaign tells you, Linda, that they will be coming. They will be stopping by to pay you a visit.'" (Ellipsis in complaint.)

BlackRock claims all three individual defendants participated in protests at Arnette's home. SHAC also targeted BlackRock employees at their homes in Pasadena, San Francisco and Oakland, the complaint states.

"On October 31, 2011, SHAC expanded its campaign of intimidation, targeting the homes of BlackRock employees in Pasadena, mounting belligerent nighttime 'visits' to family homes on Halloween night.

"On November 6, 2011, SHAC again targeted the home of a BlackRock employee in Pasadena, where defendant Lang threatened that the protests are 'an escalating campaign, and the longer you wait, the worse things will get for you.'

"Several instances of defendants' harassment have occurred in front of children who were justifiably terrified," the complaint states.

BlackRock seeks an injunction against harassment. It is represented by Daniel Bookin.

Neither the law firm nor SHAC responded to emailed requests for comment.

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