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Activists Sue Sea World

SAN DIEGO (CN) - Animal activists who protested outside Sea World say security guards and San Diego police violated free speech rights by blocking them from patrons and threatening them with arrest.

San Diego Animal Advocates and Jane Cartmill claim Cartmill and others were prevented from handing out leaflets and talking to people about the park's treatment of animals.

In her federal complaint, Cartmill claims they were demonstrating on a public walkway - not on private property.

The animal lovers say they peacefully held signs for only a few minutes when security guards told them to leave the park property. When they refused, guards called police and prevented the protesters from talking to passersby, according to the complaint.

San Diego police officers arrived and told Cartmill that the group was trespassing on private property.

Cartmill says they were not demonstrating in any way that prevented or conflicted with Sea World's use of its own property and that the business and police had not right to censor their speech on public property.

Defendants include Sea World, the San Diego Police Department and Officers S. Markland and M. Fish.

Plaintiffs seeking an injunction, damages and penalties for constitutional violations. They are represented by Corey Evans with Evans & Page of San Francisco.

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