The following is a history timeline of our lawsuit of 3 Mules v. California Highway Patrol (CHP) from point of arrest to present date and will be kept up to date to inform all those interested in the progress of this case. Below are blog post links for further details.
CHP dash cam shot of 3 Mules walking along Naciemento Lake Road prior to their arrest on January 23, 2020.
San Luis Obispo, CA: On January 21, 2021, John Sears, who lives a nomadic lifestyle and has traveled the state of California with his mules for the past eight years, filed a lawsuit in San Luis Obispo Superior Court alleging that the California Highway Patrol wrongfully and illegally arrested him in violation of his natural, Constitutional and statutory rights.
As noted in the first paragraph of the complaint: “By this action John Sears seeks to protect this ages-old nomadic way of life and the sacred relationship between man and horse to travel together with reverence and respect for this beautiful place in which we all reside called Earth.”
Sears, 73, and his mules began traveling when he was 36. He has lived full-time outside and traveled with his mules after retiring from his work as a tree trimmer in 2001 at age 54. He documents their endless journey on his website 3Mules.com, 3 Mules Facebook and Instagram pages, which have over 60,000 followers worldwide.
On January 23, 2020, the Mules were walking along Nacimiento Lake Drive, a rural two-lane country road near Paso Robles in San Luis Obispo County. Such route is the only route between Bradley, California and Paso Robles other than Highway 101, and is part of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, a historically designated trail that stretches 1200 miles from Nogales, Mexico, through the California desert and coastal areas in Southern California and the Central Coast region, to San Francisco.
Despite the Mules right to travel such road, and all public thoroughfares in California, excluding interstate highways, he was ordered by CHP officer David Agredano to “stay off the road.” Such order was not only impossible to safely comply with, it was in violation of Sears’ rights under the U.S. and California Constitution.
Sears states: “Nowhere in the California vehicle code does it state that the public thoroughfare is for the exclusive use of the high speed heavy machine called an automobile.”
The California Vehicle Codes and Food and Agricultural Codes provide all non-motorized travel equal access to the public thoroughfare. (Veh. Code § 21050, See also, Food and Ag Code § 16902, 16903.
Sears notes: “The Mules were not creating a safety hazard. The Mules were legally using the public thoroughfare in conformity with the state vehicle code. The motorist has one of two options: 1) obey the state vehicle code, slow down, and stop if necessary, when approaching livestock, or 2) disobey the state vehicle code, refuse to slow down, recklessly pass with no concern for the consequences, and call 911 to complain that there is a person walking with horses on the road.”
Along substantial stretches, Nacimiento Lake Drive is hemmed with steep banks on both sides of the road. It has narrow to non-existent shoulders in many areas as the CHP dash cam video clearly shows. The non-paved area directly adjacent to the road was a steep upward bank, which would be difficult to impossible for a pack mule to navigate.
“The Mules were walking as close to the steep bank as we could to provide the motorists that were obeying state vehicle codes to safely pass.”
Sears further notes: “If this arrest was legal, then all U.S. citizens traveling under their own non-motorized power (equestrians, pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair, and all others) is likewise illegal. This nomadic lifestyle which the Mules practice, which is over hundreds of thousands of years old, is how the Mules live on this earth. The Mules are bringing this case to court to preserve the right for all equestrians, pedestrians, and cyclists to travel on these public thoroughfares without fear of arrest.”
Sears filed a complaint alleging violation of his civil rights under Federal and California law, false arrest, and declaratory and injunctive relief. In addition, to his damages, he seeks a declaration of his rights that he can present to law enforcement in the future, and for the CHP to issue a training bulletin informing officers of the right for equines and other animals to use the public thoroughfare.
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People often ask the Mules what their mission is. “Our purpose is to walk and live peacefully taking only what we need. Seeking balance and harmony with all that surrounds us and bringing the energy and value of this ages old way of life to all of those who we pass.”
“Spiritually, we are all unique. The Mules are experiencing the sacredness of this place in our own unique way. We are not doing anything spectacular. We get up in the morning, fix something to eat, and walk all day long. We enjoy it. Just walking. We enjoy the sacred act of walking in harmony and balance with the energy of this beautiful Earth that flows in, around and through us.”
“The public thoroughfare has been designed for the high speed motorists and their automobiles,” Sears explained. “The Mules and those who travel under their own power and speed (equestrians, cyclists, hikers) must preserve the right to use these same public thoroughfares as there is no adequate trail system to get equestrians and non-motorized travelers from one community to the next in this state.”
Sears has hand delivered copies of his Declaration of Emergency to over 200 city halls in California as well as to the governor’s office at the California State Capitol. In the declaration, he says the Natural World is being destroyed by a sprawling Megatropolis. Sears describes the Megatropolis as “the man-made world, spreading sprawling concrete, putting up lanes, putting up buildings everywhere. It wants all the remaining open space and it is unrelenting. It doesn’t want any other venues (pedestrians, cyclists, equestrians) to use the public thoroughfare except for its most favorite tool, the automobile.”
For further press inquiries or interviews, contact Attorney Todd T. Cardiff Office (619) 546-5123 or Cell (619) 885-1443 – www.tcardifflaw.com
UPDATE 9/19/2020: In 2015 the Mules were traveling through Ventana Wilderness in Monterey County where we had the pleasure of staying at Rancho Salsipuedes owned by Timothy Bottoms. We enjoyed our stay at the Rancho and learning of its unique history, which is documented in our original blog post below.
Rancho Salsipuedes is a rare place. About 12 miles inland in Big Sur, it is one of the LAST standing California Homesteads that is not owned by the government or by a corporation. It has been in the hands of The Bottoms family since 1975. It has been untouched by overdevelopment, remaining in all of its glory. It has been looked after with true, pure, authentic love for the natural world.
We have come to find out about the Dolan wildfire that started August 18, 2020 and one month later continues to burn with only 46% perimeter containment. This wildfire ravaged thru and over the Rancho Salsipuedes, which we are very sorry to hear about.
In 2015, We left our palomino mule, Who Dee Doo, at Rancho Salsipuedes and glad to see in the photo below that he made it through the fire okay.
The Bottom’s family friend, Caitlin Ackerman, has organized a GoFundMe fundraiser to help the remaining horses and rebuild Rancho Salsipuedes. Please click on this linkto read more about this special place and donate if you can. Warning, there are graphic images of the animals domestic and wildlife that didn’t survive.
Here is our original blog post that we wrote October 20, 2015:
October 20, 2015 – Rancho Salsipuedes:
Three Mules and one monk were walking south through Fort Hunter Liggett on a road bordering the Los Padres National Forest when a gentleman by the name of Timothy Bottoms stopped his Jeep, got out, introduced himself and asked if the kids needed water or hay for he had brought some. The monk responded, “No. We are okay. Thank you.”
He then invited us to his ranch to take a break. We said yes that would be nice. So we walked to his ranch, which is surrounded by the Ventana Wilderness, and took a break.
Tim asked if we needed anything in the way of supplies, gear, etc. The monk responded with a yes. Our pack boxes were over 25 years old and worn to the bone. Tim said he would be glad to help so he did by supplying us with four new pack boxes.
Who Dee Do, our third mule will be staying at Tim’s ranch. He never became easy for me to shoe. He had to be sedated and that was not a practical scheme for us walking through the Megatropolis.
Who Dee Do will be living with Tim’s horses and mules, a great place for Who Dee Do to live.
The Mules say thank you to Timothy Bottoms for his kindness and support he has shown the mules, the identifiers of this ages old nomadic way of life living with respect and reverence for this beautiful place called Earth, the home of human beings. ~The Mules
About Rancho Salsipuedes: “Nestled in the verdant, peaceful valley, stands the thick adobe walls of the Mission San Antonio de Padua’s Portreros Mulos built by the caretaker friar and several neophytes…it established ranch support for the mission mules.
After secularization in 1834, the property came under the private ownership of Vicente Avile, who purchased the drought stricken Rancho for the stately sum of $13, all he had in his pocket. The Rancho remained in the family estate for over one hundred years.
The Avila Ranch, a 160-acre homestead, became known as Salsipuedes (“get out if you can”), which was later sold to Timothy Bottoms in 1975 as a family refuge.”
On the ranch is an old stone cabin and oven built sometime in late 1800s/early 1900s.
The trails surrounding the property are very difficult to travel and impassable with overgrown brush and fallen trees. During the time we were waiting for our pack boxes to arrive, we spent our time clearing these trails.
The Mules delivered to Sacramento the following claim against the State of California and its enforcement agency, the California Highway Patrol, for our unlawful and illegal arrest on January 23, 2020, for allegedly failing to obey a lawful order.
The purpose of the Mules filing this claim is to protect the Mules legal right to the use of the public thoroughfare. Without access to a strong healthy public thoroughfare, the Mules ages old nomadic way of life will come to an end. The energy of our ancestors who have roamed and wandered across this earth for thousands of years is harbored and available for our use. We will use it in this dimension and all others in which we may find ourselves to preserve this sacred way of life for ourselves and those who will inevitably follow.
On Monday, July 27, 2020, the Mules brought our claim for over 1000.00 dollars pertaining to our wrongful and illegal arrest by the State of California and its enforcement agency CHP to the California State Capitol.
The Mules were arrested on January 23rd, 2020 (read about that incident here) for failure to obey a lawful order which was anything but a lawful order. The Mules were ordered off the road it’s our right to walk on the road under state law and the US Constitution.
The energy of our ages old nomadic way of life that has been practiced by the mules through the ages is in company with this claim. The spiritual energy accompanying this claim will make itself known in the most of unforeseen ways.
Be ready get ready for what is to come. For the energy of our ancestors who have lived their sacred way of life on this Earth will never sit back and watch its beloved way of living destroyed by the megatropolis/man made world.
The Mules would like to introduce a friend and follower of the Three Mules Nation, Lori Ann Wiley. Lori is a paralegal who has worked in law enforcement and education. She has volunteered to help the mules with our claim against the State of California for when we were arrested for exercising our legal rights to travel on the public thoroughfare on county road G14 in Paso Robles, on January 23, 2020 (details here).
The Mules will be walking back to the Templeton California Highway Patrol (CHP) office to deliver an unsigned governmental claim. Upon arriving there, we will deliver this unsigned claim for less than $1,000, to demand reimbursement of the $266 that was paid to San Luis Obispo County Animal Shelter, for the release of Little Girl and Little Ethel from their custody.
The purpose in delivering this unsigned claim to CHP Templeton is: 1) to bring the energy of our ages old sacred nomadic way of life and the sacred relationship between human being and horse, which has been practiced on this Earth throughout the ages, to the doorstep of the megatropolis; and 2) to bring notification that the Mules and this way of life, which we have practiced with love and respect for Earth and its web of life, will never acquiesce to the megatropolis and its most favored child, the automobile, with its relentless pursuit to acquire the public thoroughfare for its exclusive use.
For if we allow these kinds of unlawful arrests to be made under the guise of public safety, the inevitable consequences of this will be that the Mules, and all others like us, will be removed from the public thoroughfare, which will result in the end of this sacred relationship between human being and horse living and moving in harmony and respect for Earth and the energy of all its life.
The energy accumulated and harbored in this document on our way to Templeton will materialize in unforeseen ways as we then move forward to Sacramento to deliver another Governmental Claim for over $1,000.
By delivering this claim, we want to address the incongruities that exist between the actual law and a gray area that was claimed, and then used by CHP Templeton, to interpret the law in order to side step the actual law, which then enabled them to bring charges and make an unlawful arrest under the guise of public safety, as what happened in the case against the Mules.
Public thoroughfares, by their very nature, are for public use and are to be shared by all legal users. In order for a public thoroughfare to operate safely and efficiently, the practice of sharing must be enforced by law enforcement. Releasing one group of users from their responsibility to share and adjust position and/or speed for the safety of all, and then transferring the energy of that responsibility onto the shoulders of another (such as the Mules), is not compatible with the proper use of a public thoroughfare. In the case of the Mules, CHP Templeton demanded the Mules to get off the public thoroughfare under the pretense of safety, so that the responsibility of the high speed motorist to obey the law could be avoided.
The Mules see this case as a great opportunity to bring attention and awareness, through discussion and education, to the rights, duties, and responsibilities of all those (motorists, equestrians, cyclists, pedestrians) who use and share the public thoroughfare.
As more places are coming out of lockdown, we expect to see more high speed automobiles with individual drivers on the public thoroughfare as more people may avoid taking public transportation or carpooling.
Reminder that it is the law to share the road with other public thoroughfare users (pedestrians, equestrians, cyclists). Slow down, yield, or stop to safely pass. Also, do not text and drive.
Taking a few seconds to slow down to safely pass will not ruin your day, but getting in a wreck will.
A comment was made on our last post: “So you want strangers to keep up your lifestyle…that’s what we call bums.”
The Mules and this ages old nomadic lifestyle which our ancestors have practiced for thousands of years is still being practiced today by us the Mules. We get up in the morning off the ground, take a look at our animal companions, bid them a good morning, fix some breakfast, usually oatmeal or rice and vegetables or maybe some ground nuts, very simple and basic, nothing fancy. Then the monk packs up the Mules and we are on our way in any one of four directions, spending the day walking in the light with love, respect and reverence for this Earth and the web of life one step at a time.
When sun begins to set, we look for a place to stop for the night on the public thoroughfare. Often times, somebody will offer the Mules their property to stay for the night. Often times, the Mules gratefully accept. We then fix a simple meal, make the Mules comfortable for the night, then go to sleep knowing full well when we awake in the morning, we will be more to once again practice this unchoreographed dance across the face of the earth in harmony and balance with the energy that surrounds us, guides us, and protects us. This energy of which we speak shows itself through the many kind and generous people the Mules meet everyday as they walk this timeless endless journey of respect and reverence for the Natural World. All of our material needs it will simply materialize into what is needed.
So this is the way it is for the Mules. It does not matter what we are called as we walk along the public thoroughfare for we know who we are and where we are from. We are the body of our ancestors and we come from the harbored energy of their sacred way of life.
Our ancestors have walked under around and through every Megatropolis/ Empire that has ever been and witnessed their ultimate collapse. The Mules as we walk around under and through this Empire are also witnessing its collapse.
As the Megatropolis continues its inevitable collapse and initiates a totalitarian nightmare to contain and control all human energy within it s purview, the Mules will continue this endless journey of our ancestors forever moving into the light of this place in which we reside alone but never alone, a place for everybody and anybody moving, walking in harmony and balance with the energy that created Earth and all its inhabitants.
The Mules as well as others who follow the Mules have been receiving periodic emails for the past several years from John McDonald, a filmmaker requesting donations for his documentary film about the 3 Mules. We allowed him to start filming us back in 2013, but ended our association in 2014.
The Mules went to the 3MulesMovie website “Support” page, which states the following:
Join the team that helps complete the documentary with your tax-deductible donation through the film’s fiscal sponsor, the International Documentary Association (IDA).* Donations are accepted through PayPal, by check or by credit card. All donations go directly towards completing the film.
Further down the page, it states:
* Read the IDA’s LETTER OF SUPPORT. The IDA is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that oversees financial contributions to independent documentary films. The IDA requires annual reports of all income and expenses connected with the project and will make these reports available upon request. Contact Amy Halpin, Fiscal Sponsorship Program Coordinator with the IDA, to receive a financial report on the current financial status of the project. email@example.com and/or subscribe to our newsletter to see a copy of the latest financial report.
On February 15, 2020, the Mules sent an e-mail to the IDA Fiscal Sponsorship program requesting to see the financial report of all income and expenses connected with this project. We also sent an email directly to Amy Halpin on February 18, 2020. We didn’t receive a response and sent another follow-up email on February 25.
On February 26, Amy Halpin responded:
Much of the information you have requested is confidential and I am unable to release it without John McDonald’s written permission. But I’d be happy to reach out to him and get his permission to share this specific financial information with you. I believe he’s been very transparent with these requests in the past. I can share that he is current on all reporting due to us for the project.I’ll be back in touch as soon as I’ve had a chance to chat with him, hopefully, tomorrow.
The Mules responded back to Amy that it his website that directs people to contact her for the copy of the financial report.
It is now April 11 and the Mules still have not received any further communication from Amy Halpin or the IDA.
Update: The Mules finally received a financial report from the IDA on 4/14/20. Because the fundraising effort by John McDonald has been going on for so long 7 years, the Mules find it necessary to inform those who might donate that the Mules are not in anyway participating in the fundraising for the documentary Call Me Mule or are we supporting his scheme of sending out e-mails asking for donations. ~The Mules