Why do cockfighters in majority white conservative states get a free pass from big animal advocacy groups & law enforcement?
by Steve Hindi, founder, Showing Animals Respect & Kindness
Recently I have read a number of posts from animal organizations applauding the failure of cockfighters’ efforts in the courts to continue cockfighting in the U.S. territories, such as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. These noisy groups include, but are not limited to, the Humane Society of the United States, PETA, Wayne Pacelle’s multiple organizations [Animal Wellness Action et al], and In Defense of Animals.
With the exception of the U.S. territories, federal law has banned animal fighting in the United States since approximately 2008. The 2018 Farm Bill included the U.S. territories in the federal ban, effective in 2019.
Tired legal arguments
Cockfighters in the Territories were not pleased, and made tired legal arguments that cockfighting is part of their tradition, heritage, etc., losing in the U.S. federal district court for Puerto Rico in October 2019. In short, the federal government has prevailed.
It should be pointed out that the populations of the U.S. territories are predominantly people of color: 83% in Puerto Rico, 86% in the U.S. Virgin Islands, 93% in Guam.
Why does that matter?
It wouldn’t, if the noisy groups applauding the shutdown of cockfighting in the territories were also fighting against cockfighting stateside, in places like Kentucky, Oklahoma, Ohio, and other politically conservative white enclaves.
Working against cockfights right here at home
Showing Animals Respect & Kindness [SHARK] has also applauded the shutdown of cockfighting in the territories. But there is a major difference between SHARK and those other humane organizations. SHARK, with some supportive funding from the Humane Farming Association, is working intensively against cockfighting right here, in the continental U.S.
We go undercover in the cockfight pits. We fly drones, and use long-range cameras. We’re taking on corrupt police agencies, prosecutors and governors. We’re doing whatever else we need to do to document, expose, and actually shut down cockfight operations. SHARK is making real change, in short, while the noisy groups just make noise.
A SHARK investigator and I were attacked at the beginning of 2021. My associate’s vehicle was repeatedly rammed, and was ultimately totaled in a ditch. I was jumped by two thugs, and received a head laceration requiring six staples to close, a broken rib, and a back separation, along with extensive bruising throughout my body.
Cockfighters are dangerous career criminals.
Crimes attendant to cockfighting include illegal gambling, drug-dealing, weapons trafficking, prostitution, welfare fraud, gang activity and more.
Ignoring white cockfighters gives appearance of racism
The noise made by the white-staffed big groups, aimed at shutting down cockfighting by people of color, is odious, given that those same white people refuse to do anything of substance to white cockfighters who are operating stateside. White cockfighters stateside are located much, much closer to those humane groups than people of color in the territories.
To publicly support the shutdown of cockfighting for people of color, while doing nothing about cockfighting in relatively local white populations certainly gives the appearance of racism. It may be racism. It may also just be opportunism, because the noisy groups that were active on the front lines of animal defense decades ago are now little more than money counters and marketing experts.
These groups see an opportunity to profit off an issue without investing the time, money, effort, and considerable physical risk of a serious campaign. Never mind that their noise amounts to nothing in the actual battle to stop cockfighting. For those groups, stopping cockfighting was never the point. Donations are the point.
Ignoring corrupt cops
Right here, in the relative backyard of the big groups, cockfighting isn’t just ignored by the police; cockfighters are vigorously and stubbornly protected by what amounts to badged gangs in places such as Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia and more.
Taking on corrupt cops is especially scary for the big groups, especially when they want to be seen as partners with the police, and surely do not want to become police targets.
The problem with cockfighting, which is illegal across the country, is that police knowingly choose to protect the criminals. The police know where the cockfight locations are, and know when the events occur, and turn a blind eye to all of it. Pit operators are so confident in the corruption of the police that they print schedules for the entire season.
Wayne Pacelle brags that he has gotten government money to help train police officers in the enforcement of animal fighting laws. Were it not for the suffering of nonhumans, this would be laughable. Corrupt police such as infamous Kentucky sheriff John Root of Laurel County and Patrick Robinson of Clay County don’t need training; they need a cell in a federal prison.
The Kentucky State Police, to name another entity, are not ignorant of the law or their duty. They simply made a command decision to betray both.
“The problem is the police. The solution is the police.”
When SHARK researched the cockfight issue before going into action, we identified the problem and the solution. The problem is the police. The solution is the police. The challenge is enormous, almost beyond words. We have to turn police departments that have been corrupt for generations into proper instruments of law enforcement. That change will occur only with real, intelligent, determined effort, not with the propaganda chickenshit from the noisy groups.
For the past two years, SHARK has been on the ground in Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Alabama, North Carolina, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, California and other states, while Wayne Pacelle issues worthless reports and press releases, always promising future action that never comes. The Humane Society of the U.S. manages to hold a photo-op with police at the occasional cockfight bust. Those cockfights are usually attended by Latinos. Events put on by white animal abusers usually get a pass.
Make cockfighters keep their birds––and feed them
One particularly repulsive detail of HSUS busts is that the roosters seized are typically killed. SHARK wants these birds sent home with the owners. Yes, they may well be used at another cockfight somewhere else, but that is all the more reason for us to stop the other cockfights.
If, in the alternative, 500 birds (as an example) are seized and killed at a busted cockfight, what happens next? The cockfighters raise or buy 500 more birds. So 500 seized birds are killed by “our side,” and 500 more replace them to die in cockfights, meaning “our side” merely managed to double the body count. It is a cruel and utterly ridiculous scenario.
It is time for the noisy groups – the profiteers – to get serious.
It is time to end the chickenshit game that is played with great regularity in the animal protection industry today, of pretending to be involved in something just for the sake of appearances and donations.
That should be intolerable to anyone who actually cares about making positive change for nonhumans.
With the exceptions of SHARK and the Humane Farming Association, there is little to no evidence of real, lasting work being done in the U.S., where it matters most, by the big humane groups who so loudly cheer the shutdown of cockfighting by people of color in the territories.
Whether the issue is cockfighting or anything else, these groups should either get in the fight for real, or shut up, and get the hell out of the way.