But Oklahoma legislator moves to gut anti-cockfighting law
WHITESBURG, Kentucky––Information is scarce about a February 25, 2022 raid by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on an alleged cockpit near Whitesburg, Kentucky.
Information is even scarcer about a rumored simultaneous raid on a second alleged cockpit west of Lexington, Kentucky, followed by additional raids elsewhere in Appalachia.
ANIMALS 24-7 suspected something of the sort happened, however, when beginning on February 25, 2022 an explosion of clicks on the January 26, 2022 article Two cockfights stopped; Steve Hindi credits local opposition sent readership soaring to the highest peak since August 2020, apparently because cockfighters were trying to find out what had happened.
SHARK was not involved this time
The January 26, 2022 article actually described interventions by Kentucky state troopers against Charlie’s Pit, in Tomahawk, the Laurel Creek Game Club in Manchester, and CJ’s Pit in London, all on January 22, 2022.
Raids on Charlie’s Pit and the Laurel Creek Game Club, and a warning believed to have been issued to CJ’s Pit, came after extensive investigation and exposure of all three alleged cockpits by Showing Animals Respect & Kindness (SHARK), founded by Hindi in 1991.
But SHARK had not previously exposed the alleged Whitesburg pit, although Hindi said SHARK was aware if it, and was aware of other cockpits around Kentucky, including some west of Lexington, an area including nearly half of the state.
Hindi told ANIMALS 24-7 that he and SHARK were not involved in the federal actions, and knew nothing about a raid in western Kentucky. SHARK did, however, obtain photographs shared with ANIMALS 24-7 showing FBI vehicles including vans and an armored car at the scene of the alleged Whitesburg cockpit.
The alleged cockpit, believed to have only just opened, was recently built up a side road west of Kentucky state highway 15/160.
This Whitesburg location is not to be confused with an alleged cockpit at 1941 Elijah Martin Road in Whitesburg, Tennessee, raided by the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department in April 2011. Thirty-six spectators and participants were hit with misdemeanor cockfighting citations on that occasion, and at least one alleged participant was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
133 gamefowl seized in Dallas, Texas
Whatever happened in Kentucky on February 25, 2022 followed by about two weeks a raid by police in Dallas, Texas, and the Dallas-based SPCA of Texas that on February 12, 2022 “seized 133 birds from a property where cockfighting was taking place, officials said,” reported Malini Basu of WFAA.
“Police told WFAA that officers responded,” Basu added, “after receiving a call about rooster fights. According to police, the 911 caller claimed there were around 200 people in the area.
“Police did not say if there was anyone taken into custody when officers arrived,” Basu said.
The SPCA of Texas on February 18, 2022 won a court order awarding the SPCA custody of the 123 roosters, eight hens, and two deceased roosters impounded by the raid, plus $4,261.25 in restitution, to be paid by the owner of the property where the gamecocks were found.
“Cockfighting is a serious problem only where law enforcement is compromised”
Emailed Hindi to ANIMALS 24-7 after the Whitesburg, Kentucky raid, “There will very likely be more busts/arrests, and I am certain there is a whole bunch of sorting out ongoing. I am told there were about 100 agents at this initial bust. It is rumored that the birds seized were killed. That may or may not be true. In any case, we do not believe the birds should be killed, as they will simply be replaced, so the victim count is effectively doubled.
“The bottom line,” Hindi added, “is that while we support what has happened, and hope there is a lot more, it is like attacking a forest fire after it reaches a million acres, when a far better plan would have been to simply douse and stir the embers that birthed the fire. This is what isn’t happening, and the county and state police are to blame, with an utter lack of leadership by the Kentucky governor, attorney general, legislators, etc.
“This is a story,” Hindi said, “that is repeated in whatever state is having a cockfighting problem. Cockfighting is a serious problem only in places where law enforcement is compromised. Even weak laws, like in Kentucky, are enough to deal with cockfighting if the cops actually do their job. That’s why the cockfighters run like cockroaches when the lights are turned on, when they find out law enforcement is coming, and they always find out. We suspect they are typically alerted by the cops themselves.”
HFA & SHARK sue in Monterey County, California
Fighting on a second front, SHARK on February 16, 2022 joined the Humane Farming Association [HFA} in suing Monterey County, California residents Martin and Edelmira Trujillo for operating an alleged gamecock farm in Salinas, California.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction that would “enjoin defendants from using their property to aid and abet cockfighting in violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law, which prohibits ‘any unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent business act or practice.’”
An approach to trying to stop cockfighting which possibly has no direct legal precedent, the lawsuit originated, it explains, when “In August 2020, plaintiffs HFA and SHARK sued the County of Monterey to compel county officials to administer and enforce the Monterey County Rooster Ordinance.
Permits issued to gamefowl breeders
“As a result of plaintiffs’ efforts, which cost HFA thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees and costs,” the lawsuit says, “the county finally began implementing the ordinance. Before plaintiffs’ suit, the county had failed to do anything to administer or implement the ordinance for six years.”
The Monterey County Rooster required “individuals with five or more roosters to obtain a permit,” an accompanying Humane Farming Association media release explained.
“Acting on evidence HFA and SHARK provided to the Monterey County Civil Grand Jury in 2019, the [Monterey County] grand jury investigated and revealed that there were an estimated 1,000 illegal rooster-keeping operations in the county,” yet “not a single permit had been issued by the county for the keeping of roosters. This allowed rooster operations to flourish, with owners housing thousands of fighting birds, in plain view, in ramshackle conditions, with impunity.
Circumventing intent of ordinance
The lawsuit alleges that on July 9 , 2021 and August 24, 2021, Monterey County issued permits allowing the Trujillos to raise 125 hens and 500 roosters of breeds used perhaps exclusively for cockfighting.
“Monterey County should be shutting down, not issuing permits to, these rooster-keeping operations,” pointed out Humane Farming Association national director Bradley Miller.
“These facilities violate both the letter and the spirit of Monterey County’s rooster-keeping ordinance,” Miller added, “which was enacted specifically to crack down on cockfighting.”
Justin Humphrey is just an [email protected]#$%^&
Hindi mentioned Oklahoma, along with California and Kentucky, as yet another state where cockfighting persists largely through the failure of local law enforcement to close cockpits and gamecock farms before their activity rises to the level of becoming a federal offense, meaning that birds, money, and paraphernalia cross state lines.
Oklahoma state legislator Justin Humphrey, a Republican who represents Atoka, Bryan, Choctaw, and Pushmataha counties, and chairs the state House Criminal Justice & Corrections Committee, is currently pushing a bill, HB 3283, which would gut the state law making cockfighting a felony, approved by Oklahoma voters through a 2002 ballot initiative.
The Humphrey bill would reduce cockfighting from a felony to a misdemeanor. The Humphrey bill would also narrow the scope of the law to exclude “any training fight in which birds are intended or encouraged to attack or fight with one another,” and would legalize advertising cockfights.
Cattle & pigs are not made to fight
Observed KTUL staff reporter James King, “A report in 2020 from Animal Wellness Action showed that the Sooner state was the largest shipper in the country of illegal gamecocks to Guam.”
Responded Humphrey, “It’s a huge business. They’re going to Guam, they’re going to the Philippines, I think they’re going to Mexico. I understand people’s concerns but at the end of the day, it’s just like raising any other beef or any other pork.”
But cattle and pigs, even if sent to slaughter, are not made to fight to the death.
And Humphrey overlooked that most of the voters in Oklahoma as well as the rest of the U.S. would prefer not to have the crime associated with cockfighting abroad erupting locally.
31 cockfighters “disappear” in the Philippines
Geralyn Magbanua, wife of Philippine cockfighter Manny Magbanua, testified at a February 2022 Philippine Senate hearing that her husband and at least 30 other men have not been seen since “Julius Javillo, allegedly the owner of a cock breeding farm in Tanay, Rizal, asked her husband to handle the breeder’s cocks during a cockfight in Santa Cruz, Laguna on January 12, 2022,” reported Rainier Allan Ronda for the Philippine Star.
“Geralyn believes that Javillo may have a hand in the disappearance of some of the cockfight players,” Ronda wrote.
“A member of the Criminal Investigation & Detection Group, who refused to be identified, said a gambling syndicate could have been involved in the disappearance of the cockfight patrons,” Ronda finished.
Gamecock kills cockfighter in India
The reputation of cockfighting as the bloodiest of all so-called blood sports was further reinforced, Associated Press reported from Hyderabad, India, on February 25, 2022, when a gamecock with a three-inch blade affixed to his leg slashed his 45-year-old owner across the groin.
“The incident occurred in Lothunur village of Telangana state,” Associated Press said. “The man died due to excessive bleeding before he could be taken to a hospital. Police have filed a case and are looking for over a dozen of people involved in organizing the cockfight.”
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