San Diego settles lawsuit by protester arrested outside circus

Circus Elephants
Elephants make their way to the L.A. Sports Arena for the start of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus.
(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

The city of San Diego has settled an unlawful arrest lawsuit filed by an animal rights protester arrested in 2012 before a show of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey.

In exchange for $15,000, Elizabeth Ann Jacobelly, 50, of San Diego has agreed to drop her lawsuit and any future claims against the city.

Jacobelly was arrested Aug. 26, 2012, outside the Valley View Casino Center (formerly the San Diego Sports Arena) as she was protesting the alleged mistreatment of elephants by the circus.

Jacobelly was initially put under citizen’s arrest by security guards and then arrested by police on suspicion of refusing to leave a privately operated business premise on public property.


The Superior Court found Jacobelly guilty of two infractions. But an appellate court overturned those convictions on the grounds that Jacobelly was engaged in peaceful picketing as covered by the Municipal Code.

Bryan Pease and Todd Cardiff, attorneys for the Animal Protection and Rescue League, then sued the city for damages. The city attorney’s office and a representative of the city’s risk management office signed off on the settlement Wednesday.

On Thursday night, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus is set to begin an eight-show run at the Valley View Casino Center.  Protesters from the Animal Protection and Rescue League, including Jacobelly, will be outside the venue.



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