Protesters Arrested at Moolah Shriners Meeting Allege Assault

One protester dressed as Santa says a fez-wearing Shriner put her in a chokehold

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click to enlarge Protester Sasha Monik, left, dressed as Santa, can be seen in a video filmed by a fellow protester getting shoved by a Shriner. - VIA KYLE MAYBERRY VIDEO
VIA KYLE MAYBERRY VIDEO
Protester Sasha Monik, left, dressed as Santa, can be seen in a video filmed by a fellow protester getting shoved by a Shriner.

Two PETA protesters who disrupted a December 21 meeting of the Moolah Shriners were arrested by St. Louis County Police — but they say they intend to sue after allegedly being assaulted by fez-wearing Shriners.

Sasha Monik, 32, and Kyle Mayberry, 40, were each charged with misdemeanors of disturbing the peace and trespassing after bursting into the evening meeting.

Monik, dressed as Santa, strode to the front of the room and announced the Shriners would be getting coal for Christmas for "abusing animals in your circus," while Mayberry filmed.

The Shriners based on Fee Fee Road near Maryland Heights run the Moolah Shrine Circus, a longtime PETA target for its use of elephants. It's one of the few remaining circuses around the U.S. that still uses the pachyderms, and PETA charges that they're held in small crates and "kept in shackles."

A 47-second video that PETA shared with the RFT shows Monik briefly disrupting their meeting — and the immediate aftermath.

As the Santa-suit-wearing Monik tosses prop coal on the ground and strides out of the meeting, viewers can hear Mayberry say, "Do not touch me, that is assault!" Monik can then be seen trying to get past the Shriners in the hallway as shoving, and shouting, ensue. The Shriners say the protesters are trespassing; the protesters say they're leaving, but the scuffle suggests they can't get past the men in fezes. The camera goes black.

click to enlarge Kyle Mayberry says his pants were torn in the incident. - COURTESY OF PETA
COURTESY OF PETA
Kyle Mayberry says his pants were torn in the incident.
PETA says the Shriners detained the pair as they tried to exit. In a statement, PETA alleges, "One Shriner reportedly put Monik in a chokehold, twisted her arm, and held her against a wall while three or more of them threw Mayberry to the ground, ripping his clothing, and pinned him down. One Shriner kneeled on his back, and another stepped on his hand." PETA says the two plan to sue.

Monik says both she and Mayberry had every intention to leave after her brief disruption to the meeting, but the Shriners prevented their departure. After one Shriner put Monik in what she calls a "classic one-arm chokehold," she says several men pinned her up against a wall and twisted her arms behind her.

"They were shaking me, pushing me against the wall," she says. As for Mayberry, "they threw him to the ground," she says. "He was not resisting."

St. Louis County Police say they were called at 7:22 p.m. and arrested the protesters. They declined further comment.

Monik says police took her to the hospital, where she got a CT scan, before she was released. Mayberry was held overnight in the St. Louis County Jail for an unpaid parking ticket from several years prior, she says.

We reached out to the Shriners yesterday for comment, but didn't hear back. We'll update this post if we hear more.

Monik says she believes the pillow she wore inside her Santa onesie protected her from the worst of it. But Mayberry is in worse shape, and she's upset about what transpired.

"There was no reason to put their hands on us," she says. "Now we have to live with that trauma forever."

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About The Author

Sarah Fenske

Sarah Fenske is the executive editor of Euclid Media Group, overseeing publications in eight cities. She is the former host of St. Louis on the Air and was previously editor-in-chief of the RFT and the LA Weekly. She lives in St. Louis.
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