An animal-rights group is suing Seaport Village and the company that manages it for implementing strict guidelines to prevent free speech from occurring at the tourist attraction. The complaint also asks that a judge place an injunction on Seaport Village to prevent the management from restricting free-speech rights.
The San Diego–based Animal Protection and Rescue League filed the complaint in district court on July 15, a week after a league employee was asked to agree to several criteria before entering the mall to pass out leaflets promoting a vegan lifestyle.
On July 7, activist Francesca Cardenas contacted a marketing coordinator at Seaport Village to obtain permission to distribute fliers advocating for plant-based diets while educating people on inhumane conditions at large slaughterhouses and fish farms.
A day later, according to the lawsuit, marketing coordinator Holly Niedringhaus responded to Cardenas's inquiry with a list of requirements. Among them, Cardenas was required to submit the leaflets to Seaport staff for review prior to passing them out. In addition, Seaport Village requires activists to pay a $75 fee, have proof of insurance, have no more than three people at the mall advocating for the issue, submit a notarized application, and be "neat in appearance."
The requirements, according to the complaint, "chills free speech, burdens more speech than necessary, is not narrowly tailored, does not advance a significant interest...and is unconstitutional....
"Unless [Seaport Village] and their agents are restrained by injunction, [the Animal Protection and Rescue League]...and the general public will continue to suffer severe, irreparable harm in that the constitutionally-protected messages...will not be conveyed and the constitutional rights of...the public to express their messages will continue to be violated."
Implementing the rules, adds the complaint, is a tactic used by Seaport Village to essentially fleece free-speech groups by forcing them to hire attorneys and delay their free-speech activities.
A hearing is scheduled for January 6, 2017.
Other Reader stories involving the Animal Protection and Rescue League:
Animal rights activists sue the City for harassment and threats of arrest during demonstrations
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