Sunday, June 8, 2014

LEGAL UPDATE from Mike Garrett

Thanks for being so patient for this long overdue update. First and most importantly I'd like to say thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout this entire ordeal so far. I've heard from many organizations and many people, from all walks of life and from all over the world. They have graciously extended their offers of support and solidarity and so many of you have helped with supporting my defense fund.  Your continued support means everything to me and it has kept me going through a very difficult time. I am completely humbled by the kindness and generosity of not only my friends, but also the complete strangers who have reached out to help. Thank you all so much.

When Marineland hit me with a $1.5 million dollar lawsuit last year it did not scare me away as they must have assumed it would have. I did not stop campaigning to spread public awareness about this horrible captive facility and the captivity industry in general. I remained on public property outside Marineland talking with visitors and providing them factual information on Marineland and its long history of abuse. Myself and other dedicated activists held signs, handed out leaflets and used demonstration tactics that have been utilized against the park for over 30 years.

Seeing that their SLAPP lawsuit did not have an immediate effect, Marineland went back to court without my knowledge and using false and defamatory statements by Marineland employees testifying behind hidden pseudonyms rather than their real names, they obtained a temporary injunction order against me. This order placed several vague restrictions on my activities outside the facility on public property and it also demanded that I pay Marineland $20,000 for their own costs of seeking the injunction.

Again this did not deter me. Despite continued legal threats and even physical threats by its owner John Holer I continue to oppose this park. Over the last year I and other likeminded advocates have further increased leafleting activities inside the city of Niagara Falls, engaging with thousands of visitors. We have spoken in front of city council against the lies Marineland told to secure a second public land lease taking more public property away from demonstrators. I have compiled data on Marineland's history, written articles, utilized social media all to get the message out. I have met with officials from all levels of government to discuss the lack of regulations regarding marine mammal imports and care. I worked to inject the issue of Marineland into the Niagara Falls byelection and subsequent provincial election.  I've taken the message against captivity and leveraged several successful traditional media campaigns both locally and internationally and together with others have spoken at many different schools in Southern Ontario about Marineland. We brought the very first screening of Blackfish to Niagara and screened it for students at every school we spoke at since. I'm honored to have helped raise funds for the Marineland whistleblowers and have done countless interviews, podcasts and talks to keep the conversation about captivity at the forefront. Recently I was proud to be a part of two fantastic and extremely successful demonstrations outside Marineland for this season. I literally have done everything i can think of to oppose this industry and shameful facility. I'm not going anywhere.

Marineland's legal actions against me are now divided into two separate actions. The initial SLAPP lawsuit and the Injunction Order. Both of which i am required to defend myself against. This month I will be going to court in an attempt to have the injunction order dismissed in its entirety. Marineland will likely bring forth motions that will require expensive actions to defend.  I will seek to restore my own rights of free speech and public protest on public property and in turn, hopefully protect the rights of anyone who wishes to do the same. If I am not successful then I will likely find myself under further restrictions and I will be on the hook to not only pay my own legal costs but the $20,000 in Marineland's legal costs. If this is the outcome, it is likely Marineland will seek to compel payment by garnishing my wages, seizing any assets, including savings and even my vehicle. If I am successful in having this order dismissed, I in turn will be seeking full damages from Marineland including portions of my legal costs. I will immediately redirect this into defending the SLAPP lawsuit and explore every legal option at pursuing Marineland further.

So this is where things stand currently. With your help I have no intention of backing down against Marineland. I will continue to push for an end to animal captivity there. I will continue to defend the right to free speech and public protest in opposition to this facility and industry. And I will continue to educate as many people as I can on the plight of the animals there, past and present. The longer this fight drags on the more legal costs continue to spiral. There is no doubt the initial goal I set will easily be surpassed by the overall costs to fight this. If you can help or continue to help, donations are greatly appreciated. I sincerely hope that you all will continue to have my back so together we can fight back against Marineland's bullying.


Mike Garrett

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