Monday, February 3, 2014

16 activists with PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, attended their first court hearing this morning after being arrested during a Rose Parade protest. The group attempted to block the Sea World float from the procession.

Activists of the animal rights organization came out to support their fellow members by protesting outside the Pasadena City courthouse.

KPFK Reporter Shawn Raymundo has more on the development.

Members of the animal rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, were charged in a Pasadena court with interfering with an official city event.

15 adults and one juvenile, 12 year-old Rose McCoy, were arrested Jan. 1 during the New Years Day Rose Parade for attempting to sit in front of the SeaWorld float, which illustrated a group of orcas swimming in the sea.

PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange says a bit of confusion ensued after the hearing as the defendants were unsure why no Pasadena city attorney was in attendance.

PETA tweeted that there would be no charges filed against the defendants, but Pasadena City Attorney and Prosecutor Michele Beal Bagneris says that is not the case.

Bagneris says today’s court appearance was just the instruction of the police citation and the group will be notified of their arraignment date from the city prosecutor’s office after it reviews the cases.

Bagneris says 12-year-old McCoy will go through due process separate from the remaining defendants, who could face a six month jail sentence and $1,000 fine.

Other PETA members came out to support the 16 defendants by continuing to protest against SeaWorld. They’re calling for a public boycott of the amusement parks. PETA alleges that SeaWorld abuses its orcas and does more to harm than aid them.

In an emailed statement, SeaWorld spokesperson David Koontz said PETA’s claims and accusations are without merit. He said Sea World is passionately committed to the physical, mental and social care and well-being of animals in its theme parks.

Lange was one of those arrested and she says the group didn’t know they would be violating any city ordinance but believed they were exercising their right to free speech.

In Los Angeles, I’m Shawn Raymundo, Pacifica Radio, KPFK.