The City of Pasadena is $23,500 and several documents lighter, as PETA has won a lawsuit challenging the city over its efforts to cover up its collusion with SeaWorld in the arrest of SeaWorld protesters at the 2014 Rose Parade.
PETA’s suspicions were initially aroused after the 16 demonstrators were arrested for engaging in a traditional, peaceful act of social protest—sitting down in front of SeaWorld’s float, and “Mr. Thomas Jones” was the only one to be released without charges. The Pasadena Police Department (PPD) claimed that he had never been arrested and that no records of his arrest existed, even though PETA’s photos proved otherwise:
The other 15 demonstrators, who were all arrested and charged, said that “Jones” was separated from them at booking, and he later claimed that he had cried until the PPD agreed to release him. After some digging, PETA discovered that “Thomas Jones” was really Paul T. McComb, SeaWorld employee. Even though the company initially denied any knowledge of the infiltrator (believed to be one of at least three on SeaWorld’s payroll) the company later admitted that McComb did and does work for it.
McComb had spent months attempting to incite animal advocates to perform illegal acts such as burning SeaWorld down and emptying its tanks. A few of McComb’s messages inciting violence and other illegal acts are still live on his Twitter feed today, including ones posted on July 3, July 9, and August 23, 2014.
The city had to hand over to PETA a log of repeated communications between the PPD and an individual who is unidentified but known to be McComb, along with $23,500 in legal fees incurred while bringing the lawsuit to force the city’s compliance with the Public Records Act.
“As PETA suspected, the Pasadena Police Department has squandered time and taxpayers’ money and has destroyed the public’s trust in its failed attempt to conceal its involvement with this SeaWorld spy,” says general counsel to PETA Jeffrey Kerr. “From its corporate espionage to its refusal to release sensitive marine mammals to coastal sanctuaries, SeaWorld is ethically bankrupt.”