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Judge tosses gorilla suit lawsuit

Feb. 23, 2012 at 2:47 PM   |   Comments

NAPLES, Fla., Feb. 23 (UPI) -- A federal judge in Florida tossed out a free speech lawsuit brought by a man who was arrested in a gorilla suit at a Martin Luther King Day celebration.

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson ruled Naples, Fla., police did not violate the free speech rights of Michael L. Anderson, 50, who wore the gorilla suit bearing a racial epithet and growled at revelers at the 2007 celebration in Cambier Park, the Naples Daily News reported Thursday.

"Although wearing the costume alone may be insufficient to rise to the level of a breach of the peace or disorderly conduct, event patrons reported ... that Anderson was aggressively disturbing the patrons, scaring children, and disrupting the formal program that was under way on the stage in the park," Magnuson wrote. "Moreover, Anderson returned to the area cordoned off for the event after Officer (Ralph) Anthony told him he would be arrested if he did so."

Anderson said the gorilla suit was a "tremendously successful tool" he used at other events to promote a rapper who employs him as his manager.

"We're glad the judge didn't put up with this monkey business." said Jim Fox, the attorney representing the city.

Anderson said he plans to appeal the decision.

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