Contact: Wayne Hsiung, (650)

Circus Employees Assault Gay Man, Women, Children at Animal Rights Protest (Video)

San Bernardino Protest Turns Violent, as Activists Allege Police Misconduct

April 18, 2015, San Bernardino, CA – Yesterday, activists with Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) in San Bernardino, including women and children, were assaulted by employees of the Ramos Bros circus. (Video here.) The activists were undertaking a peaceful demonstration outside of the circus, which has had reports indicating that animals such as camels, tigers, and zebras are tied up so tightly that they cannot stand and forced to live in urine- and feces- covered enclosures. Ramos Bros employees closed the gate, locking the demonstrators in the public grounds outside of the circus, and began to attack, beat, and choke the demonstrators. The employees specifically targeted one of the gay organizers of the protest, Abraham Santamaria, with homophobic slurs during the assault, and afterwards, one of the circus employees approached a distressed female activist, Missy Freeland, and wiped blood from the encounter on her face.

"I had to watch my friends get brutally assaulted," Freeland said. "This is such a powerful demonstration of how violence against animals and humans is connected."

When police were called, instead of responding to the demonstrators' complaints, they detained two of the demonstrators. One demonstrator was cited, and the other was charged with assault with a deadly weapon for resisting attempts by employees to take his megaphone away. Police refused to charge any of the circus employees or review video evidence of the encounter. The activist charged with assault, Abraham Santamaria, is being held on $50,000 bail.

“Instead of helping us, the police harassed and bullied us,” Freeland said. “They seemed to specifically target Abraham as a gay person of color.”  

Direct Action Everywhere is a network of animal rights activists working to challenge speciesism throughout society.  We use creative protest to challenge the use of animals for food, clothing, experimentation, and entertainment.  Visit Direct Action Everywhere on facebook and at  Follow us on Twitter @DxEverywhere.