Just as the Ringling Brothers Circus rolled into Newark yesterday for a four-day run at the Prudential Center, the ACLU-NJ declared a victory for free speech in the settlement of a case involving an animal rights activist who was arrested in front of the Prudential Center last March for protesting the circus’s treatment of animals .
As part of the settlement, Newark has agreed to train police officers every six months regarding the city’s free-speech policies. “Most people don’t know how cruelly the animals are treated, and if people have the right to attend the circus, we should have the right to oppose it,” said Nicholas Botti, who was arrested while protesting the circus last year. “Looking back, it was futile to tell the police we weren’t breaking any laws, but if my experience means the police don’t infringe on the rights of other people for speaking their minds, then it is a victory for both civil rights and animal rights.”
The text of the settlement, which was signed and dated on Wednesday, can be found here. The city also agreed to reimburse Botti $1,600 in legal fees stemming from his arrest.
Ringling Brothers touts its Center for Elephant Conversation in central Florida as an important effort to protect the species.
Photo: Angela N. on Flickr.