Guest post by https://mobile.twitter.com/_Islandgirl13_
September 1st, 2015
Japan Dolphin Day
My first protest at SeaWorld Orlando
I was very excited to go to my first SeaWorld protest. Since Japan Dolphin Day fell on a Tuesday, I took a day off work to raise awareness for Dolphins, Taiji & the link to Captivity.
We made our way to Orlando that morning, arriving shortly after 9. The weather was absolutely perfect. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky! Seaworld Drive was filled with lush landscape, beautiful flowers & greenery.
I pondered why this amount of money & care went into such luscious tropical landscaping, while, inside there were bored, neurotic captives.
Surely dolphin & orca welfare would be of superior importance than to that of an entry way?
We walked towards the main entrance & saw the protesters that were already there. It was, admittedly, quite disappointing to see only a small amount of activists on such an important day. How sad it was that more people had not made their way to Seaworld to be a voice for the slaves held captive behind an illusion of paradise.
Since we had such a small number of protestors, everyone spread out strategically, in order to make a bigger impact. We were determined to reach as many visitors as possible.
I grabbed extra signs that a protester had brought, and I went to a spot just across from the Seaworld Statue. I stood on a one way road which led to the SeaWorld entrance.
Vehicles en route to SeaWorld were making their way past, the passengers examining us. It was obvious that they were confused by our presence and signs. It was then that I first noticed the Seaworld vehicles.
45 minutes later, Orange County Sheriff Office showed up. The patrol car exited the SeaWorld entrance, headed the wrong way on the one-way road, & stopped directly in front of me.
The officer asked how I was, and then asked for my identification. I greeted him politely and handed him my ID. Without saying a word, he abruptly walked away with my ID. He spoke to someone via walky-talky. I couldn’t hear what was said, but the officer appeared, to me, to be unsure what to do. He then came back and told me that I was ‘on private property’, and that I was ‘trespassing’. Surprised, I told him that I was not aware of this. I explained that I did not see any sign(s) indicating that this was, indeed, private property. I was not resistant. I expressed my willingness to comply.
The officer walked away, continuing his conversation on the walky-talky. Soon another patrol car pulled up, then another. The officers were speaking to each other but not to me. I felt uncomfortable. Yet another patrol car. This officer asked me if someone had explained to me what was happening. I said no. He said “You are on private property. You will get a Trespassing Warning”. I said ‘ok’, and attempted to explain that I wasn’t aware that I was trespassing. He asked if this was my first time here? I confirmed. He asked if I was with the other group of protesters. I wasn’t.
I queried where the property line of Seaworld was, since there wasn’t an obvious border anywhere. An additional patrol car showed up, along with 2 vehicles marked ‘Seaworld’. The Orange County Sheriff department and Seaworld Security spoke amongst themselves at a safe distance so that I could not hear their discourse. Some of the officers seemed a bit awkward.
An officer then approached me, saying “You knew you weren’t allowed to be here. Now you got the attention you wanted”.
The fleet of patrol cars and SeaWorld vehicles were blocking one of the lanes to the Seaworld entrance, which forced traffic to merge two lanes into one. This effectively slowed them down, giving them a chance to have a closer look at our signs against captivity. Yeah, I suppose I did, in effect, get what i wanted. I wanted to educate visitors to the plight of captive animals.
I must add; I think it’s safe to say that the visitors that day were curious exactly what crime had been committed. A woman standing with protest signs, surrounded by an army of Orange County officers & SeaWorld security.
Another officer came and told me I was getting a Trespass warning.
The first officer started filling out a form and popped open a little round ink pad. He asked me to stick my thumb on it and roll my thumb over the form.
I was Fingerprinted!
Then he gave the form to one of the Seaworld employees, asking him to explain the warning to me. The SeaWorld employee said:
“You are trespassing. You are herewith banned to set foot on any Seaworld property ever again. Even if you buy a ticket, you are banned. This ban does not expire. This also includes Aquatica, Discovery Cove and Bush Gardens. If you come back, we will have you arrested.”
The officer asked me if I understood, and I confirmed, yes I did. Then he handed me my copy of the form, gave me back my ID and waved, motioning that I was to go now.
Shoo, now, shoo.
I was even escorted a few feet.
I joined the other protesters at the nearby intersection. They had a birds eye view the whole ordeal and were very interested to hear what had transpired. While I talked with the other protestors, our pictures were taken by Seaworld Security. One of the sheriffs also photographed our group, explaining that this was ‘just for the record’. This is so that they have images to prove that we had been there before, should any of us get caught trespassing again.
We continued our protest, not crossing the property line, which one of the officers pointed out to me. Just an FYI- it is about 6 feet behind the intersection.
My first protest at Seaworld left me with the knowledge that I was doing the right thing. I was filled with a sense of pride to be a direct action animal activist. I was, and am, a voice for the voiceless.
How pathetic was it of Seaworld to waste taxpayer dollars and Orange County Sherriff Office resources? All because I was standing on their exploitative property with a few anti-captivity signs. Seaworld doesn’t need much help from activists to demonstrate that they are a morally bankrupt corporation completely void of ethics. They do a very fine job themselves.
Don’t go to Seaworld!