After PETA Threatens Lawsuit for First Amendment Violation, TAMU Swiftly Rescinds Campaigner’s Two-Year Ban From Campus
For Immediate Release:
November 15, 2018
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382
College Station, Texas – After PETA’s attorney sent a letter on behalf of PETA campaigner Matt Bruce demanding that Texas A&M University (TAMU) rescind the two-year trespass warning—which banned him from school grounds and was issued against him for simply writing a message in chalk on a public sidewalk—the university responded by lifting the ban, saying that PETA had a “slam-dunk case.”
On August 27, PETA staffer Bruce and a student activist used water-soluble chalk to write, “Shut the Dog Lab Down Now,” outside a TAMU library as part of PETA’s campaign against the school’s laboratory where dogs are deliberately bred to suffer from muscular dystrophy and then experimented on. Although the university has designated the sidewalks a “traditional public forum,” with full First Amendment protections, eight TAMU police officers detained Bruce for an hour and issued a “criminal trespass warning”—and although other chalk messages outside the library were left undisturbed, his was removed within an hour after the police arrived.
“Detaining Matt Bruce without probable cause and blocking him from protesting the cruel dog laboratory was a clear violation of his constitutional right to free speech,” says Jeff Kerr, general counsel to PETA. “By revoking the ban, Texas A&M has shown that it’s capable of righting a wrong, and PETA is calling on the university to do it again by ending its horrifying canine muscular dystrophy tests.”
Since releasing video footage showing dogs in TAMU’s laboratories struggling to walk, swallow, and even breathe, PETA has taken several legal actions against the school. In May, the group filed a suit challenging its censorship of free speech through the use of a filter on its official Facebook page that automatically deletes visitor posts and comments if they contain words such as “PETA,” “cruelty,” or “lab.” On June 28, PETA filed a suit to compel the university to disclose public records related to the rumored closure of the dog laboratory, and on August 8, the group filed a suit to require that the school disclose records that document the breeding of dogs and births of puppies for use in experiments in the laboratory.
For more information, please visit PETA.org.