By Kimberly Peterson

Arizona Daily Wildcat

A student group's protest of the Mount Graham International Observatory at a local office building has left a restraining order and lawsuit in its wake.

On April 4, about 20 Student Environmental Action Coalition members occupied the office of Research Corporation, 101 N. Wilmot Road.

The Research Corporation is a private foundation for the advancement of science that encourages research in colleges and universities, and also one partner in the Large Binocular Telescope project atop Mount Graham.

The corporation sent a letter to the University of Arizona indicating willingness to contribute more than $7 million to the project, said Michael Cusanovich, research vice president.

SEAC members went to the office to talk with corporation president John Schaefer, a former UA president.

Schaefer did not speak with SEAC members, and the group was escorted out of the building by Tucson police after an hour. Four arrests were made.

The next day, a restraining order was put into effect barring anyone identifying themselves as a friend of the group from returning to the company, said Janna Easter, attorney for the company.

Research Corporation also filed a lawsuit seeking damages for potential liability, Easter said.

The company wants compensation for extra security hired and interruption of business, Easter said. The amount of money in the lawsuit will be approved at the first trial.

"The Research Corporation's stance right now is they have been injured by this," Easter said. "They're very much afraid that they will be targeted again."

SEAC would have been better off making an appointment to see Schaefer, said Steve Bacon, communications director for the company.

SEAC member Anne Carl called the lawsuit a ploy to ward off further protests.

The lawsuit is simply going to tie up people's resources and time, Carl said.

SEAC is also considering filing a countersuit against Research Corporation, said Paul Gattone, SEAC attorney.

A court date has not been set for the trial. Read Next Article