WASHINGTON (CN) – Four protesters in polar bear suits, “singing and dancing to raise awareness of how the Iraq War was affecting global warming,” say Capitol Police wrongfully arrested them near a House of Representatives office building. “The individuals in polar bear costumes … were singled out for arrest … while more noisy protesters were free to leave,” the quondam bears say in Federal Court.
The protesters, who say they were engaging “in lawful and peaceful expression,” sued the United States of America, and so did a journalist who covered the event. All five allege false arrest and false imprisonment.
The protesters donned their bear suits and sang and danced near the Longworth House Office Building on Oct. 22, 2007.
They say Capitol Police officers told them to “quiet down and move along,” and they obeyed, “but occasionally stopped to sing and dance.”
There were seven demonstrators dressed in full polar bear regalia, but “conflicting orders” from police led to confusion about to how to leave the area, and after a verbal warning the officers arrested the people in costumes while letting the protesters without bear suits free.
“The individuals in polar bear costumes … were singled out for arrest, despite not being disruptive, while more noisy protesters were free to leave, even walking by as Capitol Police arrested the individuals dressed as polar bears,” according to the complaint.
The protesters are Adam Eidinger, Alexis Baden-Mayer, Cesar Maxit and Ariel Vegosen. The journalist, who was not dressed as a polar bear, is William Jourdan.
The protesters claim police “roughly” removed their costumes before arresting them with “no probable cause and no reasonable basis.”
The protesters were a part of a larger protest known as “No War No Warming.”
As for damages, Eidinger and Jourdan want $20,000 each, Maxit and Maden-Mayer each want $17,500 and Vegosen wants $25,000.
All five are represented by Joseph Sandler with Sandler Reiff.