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The death of the elephant Dondi of tuberculosis in July 2010 was a tragedy. Over the years, ARFF wrote numerous letters and organized many protests on behalf of the solitary elephant. One frequent protest location was Flea World, a flea market in Sanford where Dondi performed and gave rides.

ARFF’s peaceful protests were sadly not enough to convince Dondi’s owners to retire her to a sanctuary, but we now know that they were enough to attract attention from law enforcement.

A recently released “Domestic Security Intelligence Report,” dated August 6, 2010, details “intelligence” about events in Central Florida– including the expansion of a Sanford Islamic center, an appearance by Congressman Ron Paul, the arrival of a Greenpeace ship in the Gulf of Mexico, and the death of Dondi. The report notes, “ARFF has held numerous demonstrations at the Sanford Flea Market to protest on behalf of Dondi, whom they wanted to be retired and moved to a sanctuary.”

The report can be downloaded here.

The weekly reports are published by an “intelligence fusion center” called the Central Florida Incfix.JPGtelligence Exchange. Its goal, according to a news release announcing its opening, is “to provide information and knowledge, in the form of actionable intelligence, to policy and decision makers.” The center is supported by county sheriff’s offices, the Orlando Police Department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

In our opinion, the abuse and neglect of Dondi was criminal, and the fact that an elephant with a highly contagious disease was giving rides to children was a public health concern. Unfortunately, those issues were probably not what law enforcement were concerned about when they chose to note ARFF’s protests in the report.

Peaceful demonstrations are protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. ARFF will continue to lawfully and peacefully protest on behalf of circus elephants and other mistreated animals in Florida.

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