Animal Lovers Sue Giant Mall in SoCal

     SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) – The biggest mall in California unconstitutionally restricts protests, animal rights activists claim in court.
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     The Animal Protection & Rescue League sued the South Coast Plaza mall, of Costa Mesa, in Orange County Superior Court.
     The mall is the second biggest in the country, and gets about 2 million visitors a month, according to the complaint.
     The animal rights group claims the mall violates the First Amendment by restricting the size of protest signs, blacking out days during the Christmas shopping season, prohibiting use of cameras at protests, and requiring activists to protest “‘only in polite conversational tones.'”
     That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though, the group says, claiming the mall has and enforces more than 40 unconstitutional rules.
     Named as defendants are South Coast Plaza Security, Segerstrom & Sons LLC, and South Coast Plaza.
     “Defendant SCP Security routinely demands that plaintiff and other persons and groups seeking to engage in expressive activity at or in the mall comply with the rules, including various unconstitutional provisions therein,” the complaint states.
     “During a protest at the mall on June 22, 2012, SCP Security manager George Sanchez (‘Sanchez’) repeatedly demanded that volunteers affiliated with plaintiff carry signs no bigger than the size permitted in the rules. When protesters refused to comply, Sanchez summoned officers with the Costa Mesa Police Department to enforce the rules.”
     The mall’s security workers use “intimidation and coercion” to make protesters follow its rules, and employs a “massive security presence” to intimidate protesters, according to the complaint.
     The plaintiff claims that in April 2010, Orange County People For Animals activists were subjected to a “browbeating” when president of mall security (nonparty) Karl Andrews summoned members to his offices, “shrieked violently,” and threatened to have the protesters arrested.
     “Many APRL [Animal Protection & Rescue League] volunteers regularly refuse to engage in expressive activity at the mall because of the routine police presence and the perceived threat of arrest, and because of the menacing and intimidating behavior of personnel employed by SCP Security,” the complaint states.
     The group is represented by Bryan Pease of San Diego. It wants the restrictions enjoined as unconstitutional, and costs.
     South Coast Plaza did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

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