Animal Rights Collective Blog


In Broadside: Circus Protesters & GMU Police Injustice by christine
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Mon, 04/05/2010 – 12:49 | Broadside News Editor Yasmin Tadjdeh

Circus protesters claim GMU police injustice: Participants inhibited by barricades and police tape

Over the last two weeks, protesters have gathered around the Patriot Center to rally against the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for alleged animal cruelty of their circus animals. However, according to some protesters, George Mason University police have been unfairly targeting them and inhibiting their protests.

Through police barricades and caution tape, protesters claim that the Mason police force has been infringing on their right to protest by keeping them away from the public.

“This year when we arrived on campus, there were metal barricades put in place at the top of the steps that lead down from the corner of Roanoke Road and Po River Lane,” said Lisa Qualls, a protester at the event and a volunteer with the local Washington, D.C. based animal’s rights group, Compassion 4 Animals. “Last year, that had been our main protest spot.”

“We were told that the barricades were placed there because, in the past, children were looking over [their] shoulders at us and could have fallen down the steps,” said Qualls.

“The next time we came back, we were told we had to stay outside of the barricades,” said Qualls.“This made it very difficult to leaflet and it created not just a physical barricade, but a psychological one, too. It gives the illusion that we need to be controlled and that we are not approachable. We have never blocked anyone or been threatening. This barricade seems to be a deliberate attempt to suppress our rights.”

Other protesters at the event felt similarly.

“Throughout the demonstrations, the GMU police erected metal barricades whose aim was to enclose circus protesters,” said Nicholas Zinzer, a protester who was issued a trespassing warning on March 27. “Several protesters went behind the metal barricades and were nearly impotent when attempting to disseminate literature and hold visible signs.”

“I was issued a trespass warning at 10 p.m. that day and it will stand for at least one year,” said Zinzer. “The trespass warning is not justified. I was both peaceful and lawful throughout the protests. The GMU police were both aggressive and partial.”

According to Zinzer, he and a group of activists were preparing to leave the Patriot Center after protesting the circus when several Mason police officers approached them. After surrounding Zinzer, Zinzer said he was detained by Lt. Kevin Barrett and issued a trespass warning; he was then escorted off campus.

However, according to Mason police, the trespass warning was warranted.

“We have a designated area for protests, and he [Zinzer] was not cooperative with those directions,” said Deputy Police Chief George Ginovsky. “He didn’t comply with the directions and he was issued a trespass warning. He was escorted from campus without further incident.”

However, Ginovsky said, “If he feels he was mistreated, he needs to make a complaint and we will thoroughly investigate.”

04/21/2008 – Past Article: “Circus Protestors Protest Police Behavior”



GMU Police Trample First Amendment Rights by christine

George Mason University police violated the First Amendment rights of protesters during the Ringling Brothers Circus demonstrations. The protesters were Mason students, as well as members of the local community.

Before the Ringling Brothers protests last week, several metal barricades were erected by the GMU police. The barricades severely restricted both our movement and our message. The barricades prevented animal rights leafletters from distributing informative pamphlets and ultimately restricted their message and actions. As of this evening, additional barricades further hindered our ability to distribute information.

The erection of the barricades was ridiculous considering our nonviolent and lawful actions. Their placement was meant to demonize us and it demonstrates bias against animal rights protesters.

Our goal during the demonstrations was to educate patrons about the animal abuse that occurs in circuses. We also encouraged circus patrons not to endorse animal circuses in the future.

If obstructing traffic was our goal, then we would have engaged in different tactics. We would not be leafleting and holding signs; but instead, chaining ourselves to the Patriot Center entrances.

We were lawful during these protests and there was no reason for the GMU police to violate our First Amendment rights.

From This:

Protesters clearly NOT blocking traffic.

To This:

Same area (West Entrance), shot facing left instead of right.

This isn’t the first time…

9/29/05 – “We are writing to inform you of a serious violation of civil liberties and blatant racism that occurred on campus today. Tariq Khan, a Pakistani-American student at George Mason, was assaulted and detained by the George Mason police. His crime? Standing 4 feet from the U.S. Marine recruiting table with an 8×11 piece of paper reading, “RECRUITERS TELL LIES” held by tape to his shirt. Tariq, an Air Force veteran, was exercising his right to express his opinion that military recruiters have no business being on a college campus. He was harassed by members of the ROTC – one of whom, a self-described Iraqi war veteran, stated that he couldn’t wait to go back to Iraq to kill more Iraqis.”



ARC in Broadside by christine

Protesters Rally Against Ringling Bros. Circus: Animal Rights Collective Organizes Demonstration

Mon, 03/29/2010 – 12:19 | Broadside News Editor Yasmin Tadjdeh

Mason’s Animal Rights Collective recently organized a demonstration against Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, a performing group which annually visits the Patriot Center(Gabriella Farrugio)
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For some studentsthe idea of a menagerie of animals coming to George Mason University is not one that settles well with them. Beginning this past Thursday, the Patriot Center hosted The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The circus, which performs annually at Mason, will be here until Sunday, April 4. However, its opening day was met with protests from various local animal rights groups, including Mason’s own Animals Rights Collective.

At the demonstration, protesters gave out literature against the circus and animal cruelty, carried signs that read “Ringling Beats Animals” and wore body television screens, which featured videos from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals organization.

Michael Dupuy, a junior systems engineering major and member of the ARC said, “By hosting the Ringling Circus, [Mason is] directly supporting animal cruelty.”

According to the ARC’s website, gmu.edu/org/arc, they are “a group dedicated to raising awareness about animal rights on our campus and within the surrounding community. ARC was founded by a group of students that came together to protest the Ringling Brothers Circus on campus and to organize events pertaining to animal rights and vegan outreach . . . Our events will work to cease the suffering and exploitation of animals, and to create a greater sense of community on campus.”

Since 1992, at least 26 Ringling elephants have died, said Dupuy. “They keep their lions and tigers in enclosures that are much too small . . . Ringling brings bull hooks [to the campus], which is what they use to make the elephants perform.”

According to the website, RinglingBeatsAnimals.com, a website created by PETA, “Since 2000, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Ringling numerous times for serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), such as . . . Improper handling of dangerous animals; Failure to provide adequate veterinary care to animals, including an elephant with a large swelling on her leg, a camel with bloody wounds and a camel injured on train tracks; Causing trauma, behavioral stress, physical harm and unnecessary discomfort to two elephants who sustained injuries when they ran amok during a performance; Endangering tigers who were nearly baked alive in a boxcar because of poor maintenance of their enclosures; Failure to test elephants for tuberculosis; Unsanitary feeding practices.”

According to a statement on RinglingBrosTrialInfo.com, a website created by Feld Entertainment, Inc., the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, on Dec. 30, 2009 a federal court case against Feld Entertainment by the ASPCA and other animal special interest groups that was filed more than nine years ago was dropped.

According to the website, Kenneth Feld, the chief executive of Feld Entertainment said, “‘We are gratified with today’s decision because it is a victory for elephants over those whose radical agenda, if adopted, could lead to the extinction of the species . . . We look forward to focusing on what we do best — providing quality care to our elephants and delivering unique family entertainment options to the public.’”

Dupuy said that in the future, he hopes that Mason would utilize circuses that did not contain animal acts, such as Cirque du Soleil, which is performed completely by humans.