"The individuals in polar bear costumes," says a complaint quoted by Courthouse News Service, "were singled out for arrest, despite not being disruptive, while more noisy protesters were free to leave, even walking by as Capitol Police arrested the individuals dressed as polar bears." The individuals dressed as polar bears have now sued the United States, claiming they were falsely arrested simply for dancing outside the Longworth House Office Building in 2007.
The individuals apparently wore polar bear suits in an effort to "raise awareness of how the Iraq War was affecting global warming," presumably by making it worse and threatening polar bears. They allege that they complied with Capitol Police instructions to "quiet down and move along," although they "occasionally stopped to sing and dance." Possibly not viewing this as especially compliant with their instructions, officers allegedly seized the dancing bears and "roughly" removed their pelts before arresting them.
Three other bears avoided arrest, while one journalist not dressed as a polar bear was also caught up in the sweep and has joined the lawsuit. The five are seeking a total of about $100,000 in damages.
According to the Copenhagen Post, Danish police took a more bear-friendly approach during the UN Climate Change Conference last December. Police told protest groups that they would not arrest those wearing polar-bear or panda costumes despite a ban on protestors wearing masks, so long as they did not engage in violence. "The first panda who pulls out an iron bar," police reportedly said, "will ruin it for the other peaceful pandas."