The Mules sue the California Highway Patrol over their right to travel on the public thoroughfare

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 Lake Nacimiento 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.  

The driver of any vehicle approaching any horse drawn vehicle, any ridden animal, or any livestock shall exercise proper control of his vehicle and shall reduce speed or stop as may appear necessary or as may be signaled or otherwise requested by any person driving, riding or in charge of the animal or livestock in order to avoid frightening and to safeguard the animal or livestock and to insure the safety of any person driving or riding the animal or in charge of the livestock. “

California Vehicle Code 21759

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.  

Mules-vs-CHP-p1

Image 1 of 15

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.

Share this:

The Mules deliver their State of California Government Claim to Sacramento

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.

Share this:

The Mules’ Governmental Claim

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.   

Share the road. It's the law.
Share the road. It’s the law.

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.

Share the road. It's the law.
Share the road. It’s the law.

Share this:

Pozo, California

In the early 1800’s, 17-miles southeast of Santa Margarita, Salinan Indians settled in the area. The village was located in a hole-like valley, thus the proposed name for the town was Pozo, which means “well” or “hole” in Spanish. When California became part of the United States in 1850, homesteading began and the Pozo community grew.

On March 3, 1857, the United States Congress created the Butterfield Overland Mail Company, a stagecoach service that carried passengers and U.S. Mail from Memphis, Tennessee and St. Louis, Missouri to San Francisco, California. The route lasted from 1857 to 1861 and became one of the most important roads in the early settlement and development of California. The road through Pozo originally was the main route from the San Luis Obispo area to the Central Valley, Bakersfield and beyond.

Pozo is home to the still thriving Pozo Saloon, established in 1858. During its early years, the Pozo Saloon was the primary watering hole for weary travelers making their way over Pozo Summit.

Two days ago, the Mules left Santa Margarita and are taking the historic Butterfield Overland Mail route to Bakersfield. Pozo Road, no longer the bustling major thoroughfare as it was in the 1800’s, has some of the most beautiful scenery that we’ve ever seen in California and has plenty of grass for the mules. We stopped at the Pozo Saloon watering hole.

Share this: