PETA to appeal permit rejection

This PETA provided image claims to show circus trainers shocking a tied baby elephant as part of its training. / Courtesy PETA

COLUMBIA -- City Council is set to consider a request by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Wednesday seeking to overrule a police decision denying the group a permit to place a statue in front of the Statehouse.

PETA claims Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus abuses elephants. The group wants to display an elephant statue wearing a sign reading "shackles, bullhooks, loneliness, all under the bigtop" for two weeks prior to the circus's visit to Colonial Life Arena Feb. 4-7.

Columbia police rejected PETA's request for a parade permit in December.

In an email provided by PETA, Officer Robert J. Hall wrote the permit was rejected because "PETA's request to place a statue on the sidewalk, unattended, for an extended period of time does not constitute a parade."

PETA claims that analysis misinterprets the city parade statute and denies them free speech. PETA claims the relevant parade statute also covers displays and does not require they be attended.

"People in Columbia have the right to know about the violent and cruel training methods Ringling uses on baby elephants, and PETA has a right to show them what's going on," says PETA Director Debbie Leahy. "By denying our permit, the city is helping the circus hide animal abuse and is suppressing free speech."

PETA said it plans to present documents it believes proves the group has satisfied all city requirements. City Council can vote to overrule the earlier rejection if it so chooses.

So what do you think about Columbia police rejecting PETA's request to protest? Vote in today's WACH FOX News Question of the Day on the main page of our website and let us know whether you think it restricts free speech or is necessary to keep public order.

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