Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area citation and arrest

On May 9, 2014 about 6pm, we were looking for a place to stop as we had been walking all day. We came across this open area. We went into it. There weren’t any locked gates or signs forbidding us to go into it, so we did. I removed the gear from the mules, turned one loose and put one on a picket line attached to a tree.

I fixed my dinner and switched the mules, brought one in, put one out and went to sleep for the night. We were awoken about 10pm with flashlights shining on us. National Park rangers announced who they were and wanted to know what we were doing there.

We told them that we were walking all day, stopped for the night and would be leaving in the morning. They checked with their supervisors who responded no deal. You have to leave.

We said that it’s 10:00 at night, we aren’t interested in packing up and walking in the dark. We are on national park land. This is public property and belongs to the people of the United States. We believe that we have the right to stay here for the night to rest and will be gone in the morning.

The supervisors back at the station said that we had to leave or be taken to jail. So I was taken to the Alhambra City Jail and the mules were taken to the Ventura animal shelter. I entered the jail around 12:00 at night. I was put in a large cell by myself. I went to sleep. I woke up around 6am and started walking back and forth in my cell for 6-7 hours at which time lunch came in and I ate it. Then I went to sleep again.

I was asleep for about an hour when a jailer came in and said get your stuff, you’re leaving. So I got my stuff and walked out to the corridor and the park rangers were waiting. They took me back to the animal shelter where my belongings and the mules were waiting.

I packed the mules up and we left there sometime after dark and we were on our way.

So, in summary, we were arrested by National Park Police by Thousand Oaks for merely stopping to rest for the night on public land that belongs to the people of the United States in an area that wasn’t manicured. It was an open field that we could do no harm.

Location where we had stopped to rest for the night in Thousand Oaks in Ventura County. Google Earth link: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=34.15584,-118.96217&ll=34.15584,-118.96217&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

We were issued three citations:

United States District Court – Notice to Appear

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Torrey Pines State Reserve

CHARGES HAVE BEEN DROPPED!

Sharon Sherman, the attorney who helped Mule on this case, sent this note on November 22, 2013:  “I received in the mail today notification that the charges against John here in San Diego have been dropped, the fine set aside and the trial date vacated.”  Thank you, Sharon, for the time you spent on this case, pro bono!

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Napa, CA arrest

Napa Valley Register article published June 26, 2013:

CHP: Man arrested, cited for highway mule incident

A 65-year-old man was arrested just south of the Butler Bridge on Wednesday after allegedly walking three, fully-packed mules on the fast-lane shoulder of Highway 29, the California Highway Patrol reported.

Wednesday afternoon, authorities responded to reports that a man was walking mules on the northbound shoulder of Highway 29 toward the Butler Bridge, which has no shoulder, the CHP said. When officers arrived, the man allegedly became irate and was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest, a misdemeanor, and not obeying traffic signs, an infraction.

John Sears was booked into the Napa jail at 3:30 p.m. on the charges, according to the booking report. A city of residence was not listed for the suspect, only California.

The CHP said it did not know why Sears was walking the mules on the side of the highway, where they were going or from where they came. According to 3mules.com (a domain name registered to a John Sears of Phoenix, Ariz.), the mules, “are from the outside. (They) live outside all day, every day. Where are (they) going? Nowhere.”

“Sometimes people catch up to them, snap a photo and try to talk to the 65-year-old man who just likes to be called, ‘Mule,’” the website states. “They find that Mule is a man of few words, especially when he’s moving on city streets to get safely to the next destination.”

According to the website, Sears and his three mules, which appear to travel in a line, have been walking for nearly three decades and have traveled three states. In 2012, the group was cited for illegal camping, according to the website.

The CHP said it is illegal for pedestrians and their pets to walk on a highway. The animals were in the care of animal control Wednesday afternoon.



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