AR-News: (US) Activist sentenced to 30 days for protesting circus

Thu Jul 17 21:57:41 EDT 2003

LA Daily News
Thursday, July 17, 2003
<A HREF=",1413,200%7E20954%7E1516418,00.html">,1413,200%7E20954%7E1516418,00.html</A>
Animal rights activist sentenced to 30 days
By Harrison Sheppard
Staff Writer

Animal-rights activist and former child actress Pamelyn Ferdin, the voice of 
Lucy in the classic "Peanuts" TV specials, was sentenced Wednesday to 30 days 
in jail for carrying a wooden pole at a circus protest.

The sentencing and her formal surrender culminated a four-year misdemeanor 
case that was appealed to the state Supreme Court and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court 
of Appeals.

Ferdin argued that her right to free speech was curtailed by a city ordinance 
that prohibits the possession of wooden poles of a certain size at 

In August 1999 she was charged with carrying a bull hook -- a two-foot wooden 
pole with a metal hook, used to train elephants -- at a protest against 
Circus Vargas at Pierce College. The ordinance was written in the 1970s after 
pickets used their sign handles as weapons against police. 

The Agoura Hills resident continued to argue her case right up to her 
sentencing, saying she had the bull hook as evidence of elephant trainers' cruelty to 
the animals. "I'm not a danger to the public," she said.

But San Fernando Superior Court Judge Robert J. Schuit admonished Ferdin for 
making the case about her and animal rights when, in his view, it was about 
being a "nation of laws" and her possession of what he termed a weapon.

Ferdin's 30-day term was the sentence she received several years ago at her 
trial. The City Attorney's office originally sought a six-month sentence.

Sheriff's officials said she was being considered for a work-release program 
that would reduce her jail time.

Ferdin is a former child actress who appeared in dozens of shows and films in 
the 1960s and '70s, including "Star Trek" and "The Odd Couple." She was the 
voice of Lucy Van Pelt in several classic "Peanuts" animated specials.

"It's a sad day that our taxpayer moneys are being used to lock up somebody 
like her for doing what she was doing," said her husband, Jerry Vlasak. "Like 
Lucy, she's got a big mouth, and she's going to say what she'll say, and we're 
real proud of her."---   

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