A group of animal advocates calling themselves “These Ponies are Miserable” filed suit Tuesday against the city of Los Angeles and the pony rides facility at Griffith Park, alleging their right to protest what the group claims is the mistreatment of horses at the business was suppressed.

The pony rides operation has a contract with the city that allows the business to use certain buildings, structures and various areas of Griffith Park in exchange for a percentage of horse-riding revenue, according to the complaint filed in Los Angeles federal court.

The plaintiffs allege that on Oct. 10, Los Angeles Chief Park Ranger Joe Losorelli — also a defendant in the suit — “isolated” about 10 protesters in a designated area away from the pony rides so customers didn’t come into contact with the animal advocates carrying signs claiming the business was “cruel and neglectful” to ponies.

The protesters contend they were threatened with arrest if they did not disperse, which violated their “rights to free speech, association and assembly,” the suit argues.

City Attorney’s Office spokesman Rob Wilcox said the office would review the lawsuit and had no immediate comment.

The animal rights group contends that the defendants’ actions prevented them from engaging in “peaceful advocacy, education, demonstration, protest and other activities to communicate with the public, and has prevented them from gathering information and documenting what actually happens to the ponies,” according to the lawsuit.

Last week, following accusations from an animal rights group about the health and well-being of horses used for pony rides at Griffith Park, two Los Angeles City Council members introduced a motion to have the Department of Recreation and Parks report on the findings of a third-party assessment of the facility.

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