SAN JOSE, Calif., Feb. 17 (UPI) -- A San Francisco area federal jury said circus workers didn't deprive animal rights activist filmmakers of free speech rights.
It took the San Jose jury just a little more than an hour on Thursday to decide plaintiffs Deniz Bolbol and Joseph Patrick Cuviello, longtime Bay area activists, didn't suffer a chilling effect on their constitutional rights when the workers sprayed the activists with fire hoses, shone laser pointers in their eyes and camera lenses and entangled them with rope, the Bay area's mercurynews.com reported.
The plaintiffs showed videos from their website, Humanity Through Education, in which Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus elephant handlers are seen beating elephants in order to manage them, mercurynews reported.
"We've been gathering this evidence for 10 years now, but Ringling manages to convince the public that they're doing things differently now -- that those practices were in the past. So we have to have current evidence that it's still going on, which is why we filed this suit. Without our freedom of speech upheld, we can't go on to the next step," Bolbol said.
The lawyer for the circus said the activists tried to film the circus employees in August 2010 by standing on a 7-foot wall and lifting cameras on monopods above the wall to film into a private areas where the animals and performers relax between shows.