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Lawsuit claims Miami-Dade police restricting protesters outside Miami Seaquarium

ACLU says police violating protesters' First Amendment rights

Animal-rights activists protest outside the federal courthouse in Miami, where a battle is brewing between the Miami Seaquarium and those who want Lolita the killer whale released into the wild.
Animal-rights activists protest outside the federal courthouse in Miami, where a battle is brewing between the Miami Seaquarium and those who want Lolita the killer whale released into the wild.

MIAMI – The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the Miami-Dade Police Department, alleging that officers are preventing animal rights advocates from protesting outside the Miami Seaquarium.

ACLU attorney Shalini Goel Agarwal filed the lawsuit Tuesday in federal court on behalf of protesters Steven Bagenski, Gilda Cummings and Jeff Geragi.

According to the lawsuit, all three protesters have been ordered by police to move out of the police department's established "red zones" at one or more demonstrations. The lawsuit claims that Bagenski was arrested in August 2014 for standing on a sidewalk while protesting the treatment of Lolita, the killer whale.

The lawsuit challenges the Miami-Dade Police Department's red-zone policy as violating the First Amendment.

"This is about as obvious a violation of free expression as there can be," Agarwal said in a news release.

The lawsuit names as defendants Miami-Dade County, Miami-Dade Police Director J.D. Patterson and Officer John Alexander Jr., who arrested Bagenski.

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