Circus Animal cruelty protests ends in arrests

by Mike Robe & Dallas Blanchard
July 15, 2005

    Five activists arrested while protesting the treatment of Animals by the Ringling Brothers Circus in Fresno

Five Fresno Voices For Animals activists were arrested this evening outside Selland Arena in downtown Fresno while protesting animal cruelty at The Ringling Brothers Circus.
    Fresno Police Officer RA Nadeau instigated the incident by placing a juvenile under arrest. The juvenile was inside a protest pen set up by The Fresno PD when Nadeau arrested him for failure to obey a lawful order. When activist Stephen Gamboa attempted to communicate with the juvenile, he was placed under arrest for resisting arrest and battery on an officer.
    Activist Maria Hele, filming the arrests had her digital video camera stripped from her by the police and was placed under arrest when she shouted to the crowd waiting to get into the circus; "These cops have to arrest us for speaking out against animal abuse." Hele was charged with resisting arrest and battery on an officer.
    Activists Shawn Putnam and Ruben Jimenez were arrested while trying to retrieve Heles camera and charged with obstructing an officer and battery on a police officer.
    The four adults arrested were taken to the Fresno County Jail where they were booked and released about 5 hours latter. The arrested juvenile was taken to juvenile hall and latter released to his parents. About a dozen activists went to the Fresno County after the protest and waited until their friends were released.
    The arrests occurred on the second of five days of protests against the Ringling Brothers Circus. Wednesday’s protest, patrolled by more professional officers, occurred without incident.
    Ongoing dialogue prior to the arrests between Selland Arena officials, Ringling representatives and police seemed to indicate a desire by Ringling Brothers and the arena to disrupt the protests. Officers Nadeau and Harrel and their sergeant appeared to have no information about the previous days arrangement between Fresno PD official Ray Wallace and Fresno Voices for Animals.
    Activists suggested that if there were as many law enforcement agents citing Ringling Brothers for Animal Welfare Act Violations as there were police making bogus arrests there would be no need to protest The Ringling Brothers Circus.
    In all there were about 25 protestors tonight. On Friday and Saturday activists will be travelling to Fresno from as far away as Modesto and Bakersfield to join in the protest against the abuse of circus animals.

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