Journalists detained while covering circus protest
WASHINGTON, D.C.–Two journalists and seven animal rights protesters were arrested for disorderly conduct while covering an animal rights protest staged during a performance of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus at the D.C. Armory.
A.R. Hogan and Robert Visser, both freelance journalists, were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and “failure to move on.” Members of Compassion Over Killing, an animal rights group, were protesting the circus’ alleged mistreatment of animals. Two members of the animal rights group handcuffed themselves to a car that was blocking the entrance used by circus employees to take animals into the arena, forcing the cancellation of an act involving 10 Bengal tigers.
Hogan was standing on the grassy median of the street directly behind the arena, near the protest. A police sergeant ordered him to move off of the median away from the scene, he said. When he did not, he was arrested.
Visser said he was standing on a street adjacent to the ramp where the protest was taking place. He then went to the sergeant in charge to get permission for an escort to take photographs of the incident. But the sergeant told him to wait, he said. Visser went to the other side of an eight foot fence that the police had not sectioned off, but was met by a security officer who, on orders from the police, escorted him from the premises. Visser continued taking more pictures of the protest. He said the security guard then tried to slap the camera out of his hands and arrested him.
While in custody, the two journalists said they were strip searched. Both were released about four hours later after posting a $25 bond.
A police spokesperson would not comment on the arrests.