Appeals Court Upholds Animal Rights Activists Conviction

A three-judge federal appeals court upheld the conviction of animal rights protester Pamelyn Vlasak stemming from a 1999 anti-circus protest in Los Angeles.

Vlasak was arrested and charged with violating an ordinance that limits the size of wooden objects that can be possessed at protests. The impetus behind the law was to limit the possible damage that could be done if a protest gets out of control, specifically from wood used to tote protest signs but the ordinance restricts the size of any wooden object.

Vlasak brought a bull hook to the protest. A bull hook is a metal hook attached to a long wooden pole, whose diameter was larger than the law allows. She was convicted in 1999 and sentenced to 30 days in jail.

She appealed the sentence on First Amendment grounds, but the court of appeals rejected that argument. The court ruled that the ordinance “makes parades and large public gatherings safer by banning materials that are most likely to become dangerous weapons without depriving the city’s residents of the opportunity to parade or protest with traditional picket signs.”

Vlasak’s lawyer indicated that she is not prepared to give up and will likely ask the appeals court to reconsider its decision or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.


Court uphold validity of limit on protest signs. David Kravets, Associated Press, May 15, 2003.

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