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Animal rights activists force restaurant closure
Published: 25 Jun 09 14:16 CET
Threats and vandalism allegedly carried out by animal rights activists have forced restaurant in Umeå in northern Sweden to close its doors.
In the two years since Michael Hansen opened his Garaget restaurant, which specializes in Texas-style barbecue, his establishment has been targeted by animal rights groups on numerous occasions, the Västerbottens-Kuriren newspaper reports.
In addition to confessing to breaking windows at Garaget, the Swedish chapter of the Animal Liberation Front (Djurens befrielsefront) admitted in December to spraying glue in the locks of the restaurant’s doors.
Nevertheless, Hansen continued to persevere, doing his best to "create a meeting place" where "everyone can slip in and get a well-prepared meal made from quality ingredients", according to the restaurant’s website.
But after an incident in mid-May which threatened his family, Hansen has finally decided to call it quits.
"When actions include statements about my family’s safety being threatened, I have no choice," he told the newspaper.
His comments came following an incident which took place on the morning of May 14th outside of Hansen’s home.
As he approached his doorway, Hansen discovered a bottle filled with a clear liquid and stuffed with a rag.
Near the bottle was a message reading, "Close down Garaget otherwise this bottle will come through your bedroom window."
Shaken by the Molotov cocktail threat, Hansen reported the matter to police, but no arrests have yet been made.
"Obviously I have to take such threats seriously and I can’t just turn a blind eye to it," Hansen told Västerbottens-Kuriren.
Police have classified the incident as a case of making aggravated illegal threats and are awaiting the results of a forensic examination of the contents of the bottle.
Hansen is frustrated about having to close down after enduring the earlier vandalism.
"It’s obviously disappointing that those who victimized us with all this are going to win," he said.
"But everything has a price and now things have gone too far. I’ve already sacrificed way too much time and money which I’m never going to get back."
Hansen plans to keep Garaget open through the summer before handing the restaurant over to a new owner on September 1st.
The decision to close has prompted an outpouring of support from residents and local politicians who were saddened to hear of Garaget’s closing.
Many are calling on police to step up efforts to find those behind the threats and vandalism
"What’s happened is shameful for Umeå," said local Moderate Party politician Andres Ågren, who encouraged citizens to help police in their investigation.
"There are people out there who know who is behind these attacks. They must come forward and tell – even if they do so anonymously. We can’t accept these kinds of anti-democratic groups."