August 3, 2016
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says a document released in a court settlement is evidence the Pasadena Police Department colluded with a SeaWorld spy in the arrests of protesters at the 2014 Rose Parade.
Though Pasadena denies the evidence proves anything, PETA says the document is one part of a puzzle that shows the police department was tipped off by an undercover SeaWorld spy, who they later released with out any charges.
“It was a waste of time and resources and the City of Pasadena shouldn’t have aligned themselves with an animal abusing company like SeaWorld,” said Jared Goodman, PETA’s director of animal law. “The fact that they’re colluding with this individual, who was trying to get peaceful protesters to engage in illegal activity, is certainly concerning.”
PETA sued Pasadena last summer to try to get records related to the detainment of a protester named “Thomas Jones,” who PETA later identified as SeaWorld employee Paul McComb.
Pasadena and PETA settled the case last month, with the city agreeing to turn over a log of calls related to the protests. The city paid $23,500 for PETA’s legal fees.
On Twitter, McComb’s alleged undercover alias “Thomas Jones” said protesters should drain SeaWorld’s tanks and burn the company to the ground, if it did not go out of business first.
Pasadena Chief Assistant City Attorney Javan Rad said the communications log released by the city does not prove Pasadena had any communications with McComb or “Jones.”
“This doesn’t show who made the complaints or requests for assistance, this log does not show that,” Rad said.
The document lists the date, time and topic of the report. Each entry vaguely lists the name of the victim as “SeaWorld and the Tournament of Roses” and describes the topic as the “SeaWorld float.” None of the entries reference McComb or any individual.
The document does show the department began getting tips about PETA’s planned protest as early as Dec. 9, 2013. There were 10 calls to the police department regarding the protests, including three the day before and one the morning of, according to the log.
The Pasadena City Attorney’s Office was successful in persuading the judge to block the release of most of the documents in the case. Many were determined exempt from public release or not relevant, according to court documents.
Despite originally refusing to release the communications log, the city eventually agreed to turn it over to keep the case from dragging out further, Rad said.
“We decided it was in everybody’s best interest to provide this information and put the litigation to bed,” Rad said.
Though the document is not a smoking gun, Goodman said the existence of the calls, combined with earlier evidence, makes it clear McComb tipped off the Pasadena Police Department about the protest and then was released without charges because of his assistance. Law enforcement flanked the SeaWorld float through the entire parade.
“SeaWorld has not denied it, the Pasadena Police Department has not denied it,” Goodman said. “This is what we believe to be the final piece of the puzzle to show that Pasadena was in on it, several weeks before the protests.”
The Pasadena Police Department officially arrested 16 protesters during the 2014 Rose Parade, but images released by PETA show a man identified as McComb being handcuffed. PETA officials say McComb, then known as Jones, was taken to the precinct and then separated from the other protesters. When everyone was released, McComb didn’t show, causing the other activists to become suspicious. A deeper probe led PETA to McComb, a long-time SeaWorld employee.
SeaWorld admitted McComb was a spy during a February conference call where SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby said the company would end its practice of using undercover employees. SeaWorld kept McComb on in a different department.
Goodman says SeaWorld’s admission, the communications log and the fact that McComb or his alias does not show up in the arrest records proves his cooperation with the Pasadena Police Department. McComb told protesters he “cried” until police agreed to release him.
“They absolutely released him, he was handcuffed with the protestors, taken into the back of a paddy wagon and then taken to the precinct,” Goodman said. “He doesn’t appear in the arrest records because it was a sham, a charade.”