PHILADELPHIA - Hugs for Puppies, a grassroots animal rights organization based in the Philadelphia area, will resume protests at Le Bec Fin and Brasserie Perrier after intervention by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and civil rights lawyer David Rudovsky.
In 2005, Hugs for Puppies launched a campaign to persuade Philadelphia restaurants not to serve foie gras, which is produced by force-feeding a goose or duck until its liver swells to six to ten times its normal size. Foie gras has been outlawed in 16 countries and was recently banned in Chicago and California. Hugs for Puppies has protested at several Philadelphia restaurants that serve foie gras.
But when Hugs for Puppies protested outside Le Bec Fin and later at Brasserie Perrier (which is owned by the same chef, Georges Perrier), the restaurants went to court, claiming the protestors were blocking the sidewalk and restaurant entrances. The court issued injunctions required Hugs for Puppies protestors to stand in pairs at least 25 feet from the restaurants - which forced them to stand in front of other restaurants that do not serve foie gras. The injunctions also set strict limits on the total number of protestors.
When the ACLU and Rudovsky showed that the accusations of obstruction were false, the restaurants backed down. Today the judge entered a compromise order that allows Hugs for Puppies to protest near the restaurants once again, and removes the unconstitutional limits on the numbers of protestors.
"Our clients' goal is to associate these restaurants with the controversy over foie gras, so it was important to restore their right to protest Mr. Perrier's business practices at his businesses, rather than somewhere else," said Mary Catherine Roper, ACLU staff attorney. "As the Supreme Court has said, our city streets are 'held in trust for the use of the public and, time out of mind, have been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questions.' We are delighted to have restored our clients' right to speak out on an important social issue."