The Parking Lot Caper

This past Monday, the Mules met with the Northridge Mall general manager Susan Causey to discuss last Saturday’s events. We had a good conversation.

I first explained that I travel with my mule who carries all my belongings. We live together and have travelled all over the western United States for over 30 years, migrating with the seasons. We explained that we were passing through Salinas and had to go to Best Buy to return an item. While attempting to secure Little Girl in the parking lot, we were approached by Salinas Police who said I couldn’t be in the parking lot. The officers called security who ordered me off and said that I would be arrested for trespassing if I didn’t leave when I clearly stated that I was there to go to Best Buy.

Ms. Causey said that she was off work on Saturday, but did hear about what happened. It was her understanding that Salinas Police said that they saw a transient with a mule on the property and that there is a livestock code in the city and county that prohibit livestock from being on private property without a permit. She said that Salinas Police called shopping center security. When she heard about this after the fact, she informed the security team that if a person is at the shopping center legitimately to conduct business, the person needs to be able to conduct business. If it was a safety issue, security could have had a guard stand by Little Girl while I was in Best Buy making my return.

We responded that to claim safety to have a mule in the remote area of the parking lot is nonsense. There is a degree of safety for everything you do. You walk out your front door, you could fall down and hurt yourself. But do we suspend our right to do that? Of course not. A motorist driving in a parking lot has potential to hit a pedestrian walking through the parking lot to the store.

The degree that the mule presents of not being safe is far, far less than the degree of safety which the high speed or distracted motorist in an automobile presents. The automobile is a heavy machine moving about 5-15 miles per hour in a parking lot. When it strikes somebody, the consequences can potentially be deadly. The mules moving at 2-3 miles per hour are not going to strike anybody. Very unlikely because mules are take flight animals. They don’t go towards people, they go the opposite direction. The safety contention is very flaky. To deny us the right to enter a shopping center on the guise of safety is outrageous.

Ms. Causey also brought up a hypothetical situation where security guard may have been concerned about safety of a child going up and startling the mule. This is also a ridiculous reason. We were in a remote section. The parent is responsible for what their children do. If a child purposely pesters the mule, the parent is responsible for their child’s actions. If refusing the mules access to the parking is due to a safety issue, then all automobiles should be banned from parking lots, because a child might run between cars and get hit by a motorist. Or, should children be banned from parking lots to prevent a safety incident from occurring?

The Mules thank Ms. Causey from Northridge Mall for taking the time to meet with us. At the end of our conversation, we were on the same page that any person entering their parking lot with a horse or mule has the right to access their shopping center to do business. We ended by taking a photo of Little Girl with her and her team.

The shopping center caper in the Northridge Mall parking lot is a perfect example of how city and county codes and ordinances conflict with state and federal law for equestrians’ right to travel on the public thoroughfare. These parking lots are connected to the public thoroughfare.

When somebody leaves their house, gets in their car, gets on the public thoroughfare with the intent of going to a store to buy food or supplies for themselves and their family, they fully expect that when they leave the public thoroughfare to enter the parking lot, they will be able to park their car, walk into the store, buy their groceries and supplies, return to their car, put their groceries and supplies in their car, and leave to go home.

To have that denied simply because a person arrives by horse or mule and not in an automobile is outrageous. To have officers or security guards stop and interrogate a person simply because they arrived by mule and not allow them to park because the person didn’t arrive in a high speed automobile is ridiculous.

This is not 1817 where you load up your six-shooter and go out to shoot some deer for dinner. This is 2017. You start up your car, proceed on the public thoroughfare, enter a parking lot and go into a grocery store or a big box store, which controls the food and supplies. That’s where you get it. If you don’t get it there, you’re not going to get it.

For a police officer or security guard to arbitrarily decide who gets to eat or get supplies and who doesn’t is an outrageous situation. The Mules on that particular day were a perfect example about how outrageous things will get. It certainly showed that those limits must be thoroughly watched and constrained.

Big box shopping centers and grocery stores should have a small area set aside for equestrians as they have parking spaces for motorists and bike racks for cyclists. 

Thank you to Andre Domine who sent us this photo taken at a New York Walmart parking lot, where they have space set aside for equestrians.
Thank you to Maurice Braden who sent us this other photo of horse parking at his local grocery store in Pennsylvania.

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Salinas, California


Yesterday we awoke in San Juan Bautista where we spent the night here in the outskirts. I got up, check Little Girl, went back to my pack boxes and fixed breakfast. Then I went and caught Little Girl and took her down the street to get some water. Then brought her back up, tied her to the fence and ate my breakfast.

Upon finishing my breakfast, I gathered up my stuff, saddled Little Girl and packed up. We left approximately 9:30am. We got on the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail and headed for Salinas.

We walked about 16 miles and got to the outskirts of Salinas and stopped at the Walmart. I tied Little Girl to the tree at the parking lot, went into Walmart, bought two cans of black beans, three cans of diced tomatoes, one can of chick peas, and one can of green beans, went outside, and untied Little Girl. We then walked around in back of Walmart, tied Little Girl to a tree, unpacked her for she was in need of a rest after walking 16 miles.

We been there about an hour when two Salinas Police Department officers in a car showed up and presented a friendly demeanor. I was on my smartphone doing stuff. They kept peppering me with questions. It was obvious they were interrupting me and wouldn’t let me proceed with my business. A little while later, another officer, pulled up in a car behind them, got out of his car, walked up to the other officer’s car, said something to them, and then they all left. I stayed there about another 30-45 minutes, at this point I decided to repack Little Girl and leave.

I then proceeded to Best Buy to return a product that I had bought that wasn’t performing as it was promoted to. We got to the Best Buy parking lot, walking back towards the store, stopped under a tree where there was a bunch of dandelion weeds growing. I was letting Little Girl eat them when two Salinas Police officers pulled up and started asking me the usual questions in a friendly demeanor but I was not interested in talking to them. I had plenty to do and wanted to get Little Girl secured in the parking lot and go into Best Buy to return the product.

When I started to move away, the two officers got out of their car, and put me in detainment by stating that I cannot go anywhere. I asked them why, and they said because you wouldn’t talk to us. When the conversation started, it was a friendly conversation, they admitted that, I wasn’t being detained, I wasn’t doing anything wrong, but because I wouldn’t talk to them anymore, they decided that they would put me in detainment. From that point, they informed me that I was trespassing. I told them that I was at Best Buy to return a product that I bought previously. They refused to let me to go into Best Buy, called the shopping center security, who turned up shortly, told me I was trespassing and demanded I leave.The Salinas Police officer said if I didn’t leave immediately, I would be arrested, taken to jail, and Little Girl would be taken. So, I left.

I walked over to the next parking lot that was connected to the other stores, they shortly turned up once again, and repeated the same process over again. From that point, I left. I then found myself on the street.

We are posting copies of our receipts to prove our purpose for entering the Walmart and Best Buy shopping centers. An automobile has the right to go into a parking lot, park their car and walk into a store. But somehow a man with a mule or a horse, does not have the right to go into a parking lot, tie up their horse and go into the store. We are doing the same exact same thing, except instead of using an automobile, we are using an animal for transportation. We have the same rights in this country as anybody in an automobile that uses that machine for transportation in this state in this country to use our horse for transportation. To deny us the use of a parking lot is discrimination plain and clear. It is illegal.

When a person wants food in 2017, they have to go to a grocery store to get it. The days of going out with your bow and arrow and hunting deer and game are over. Making these parking lots subject to no trespassing laws and allowing a security company to arbitrarily say in effect “I like you, the guy in red hat, but I don’t like the guy in the blue hat. Therefore, I am going to deny the guy in the blue hat the right to park his car, park his horse, and not allow him to enter the store to buy food for himself and his family.”
We will be in Salinas until Monday because we want to talk to the shopping center management to get an understanding why they had us evicted from the Best Buy parking lot for doing nothing other than tying Little Girl to a tree in the safest place we can find, to go into Best Buy and return a product we had bought previously that wasn’t functioning as promoted. We were arbitrarily evicted by the security company that works for the shopping center ownership.

People that support us, please don’t call the police. The best method is to call the shopping center who owns the parking lot and their security company that evicted us. For the police could not have done it without the consent of the security company that works for the shopping center ownership. Call them and ask them the same thing that we’re going to ask them Monday morning. Why the discriminatory policy to allow an automobile to do business and refusing a person on a horse from entry. It is unconstitutional to deny a person on a horse that is their livelihood from being able to function on a day to day basis that allows us to survive.

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