Protestors Sue Santa Anita Racetrack Over Security Guards' False Arrest and Assault

This weekend brought the 27th and 28th horse deaths at the Santa Anita, California racetrack. While everyone from Senator Feinstein to the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times has called for the track to suspend operations, the track stubbornly refuses. And unless and until the state racing commission steps up and forces the park to suspend racing, activists will keep showing up demanding an end to this pointless cruelty.

Back in March, eight activists showed up to the racetrack to protest the park’s continued operation in light of the mounting death toll. They sought to protest in the publicly-accessible parking lot outside of the racetrack’s ticket gate. As they approached the parking lot, a battalion of Santa Anita security guards blocked their way with barriers and assaulted three of them, putting one into a chokehold, throwing another against a wall, and forcing the third to the ground. The other five were blocked from videorecording the assault and ordered to leave under threat that they, too, would be arrested and brutalized.

The park security called the police, who accepted the citizens’ arrests, but prosecutors rejected the charges.

My office, along with Jerry Friedman and Dave Simon, filed suit on behalf of the activists.

“This illegal behavior by Stronach Group and its henchmen shows the extreme steps they will take to keep a lid on the news of horses that keep dying under their watch,” said Heather Wilson, lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. “We hope this lawsuit will expose them for what they are: a group of callous thugs with no concern for animal welfare or human rights, who just want to put dollars in their pockets regardless of the social cost.”

Some local coverage of the lawsuit is here. A copy of the complaint is here.