Showing Animals Respect & Kindness videotapes worst charreada violence yet
WOODSTOCK & BELVIDERE, Illinois––Charreada season is back and more gratuitously brutal than ever in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, the first Showing Animals Respect & Kindness charreada drone videos of the year show, with more expected from charreada sites in both Boone and McHenry counties.
SHARK drone videos have already caught charros multiple times stripping calves’ tails down to the bone, waving the bloody lumps of flesh and hair aloft as trophies; senselessly flogging and punching their horses, who have done nothing wrong and have nowhere to go to escape the abuse; and electroshocking calves to force them to run the gauntlet of charros repeatedly, throughout a hot afternoon.
See for yourself here: https://youtu.be/CnNYSU5K9U8.
Cops ignore felony cruelty
Law enforcement response so far has been nil, despite multiple complaints from Showing Animals Respect & Kindness and others, though SHARK videos have captured several acts of not only misdemeanor cruelty but Class 3 and 4 felony cruelty as defined by Illinois law, if the cases were prosecuted to the full extent possible.
Class 3 and 4 felony cruelty in Illinois carries a prison sentence, upon conviction, of from one to five years. In some instances a conviction could get a non-U.S. citizen deported.
McHenry County deputy sheriff Derick Waters, while oblivious to charreada cruelty, was on June 4, 2023 videotaped in the act of attempting to interfere with the SHARK drone surveillance of a charreada in progress.
Waters alleged incorrectly that a drone may not fly over private property without the property owner’s permission. In truth, property rights in the U.S. do not extend into air space.
“Shocked incessantly with electric prods”
“SHARK investigators and drone pilots have already documented two of these exhibitions of cruelty over the last two weekends in Illinois,” Showing Animals Respect & Kindness founder Steve Hindi emailed to supporters on June 15, 2023, “one in McHenry County and one in Boone County,” with a third charreada location nearby also under surveillance.
At the at yet undisclosed third location, Hindi told ANIMALS 24-7, sheriff’s deputies were videotaped providing security service to the charreada as apparent off-duty moonlighting.
“Steers are thrown to the ground over and over, perhaps 15 to 20 times in a single day,” Hindi described of so-called “steer-tailing,” the central event in charreada.
“The outer sheaths of their tails, which are extensions of their spine, are literally ripped off. These victims are shocked incessantly with electric prods.
“What if juvenile delinquents did it?”
“The horses ridden by the contestants do not escape the abuse,” Hindi continued. “SHARK drones regularly see horses whipped, being hit in the head and eyes, and being punched. Whipping the face of one horse went on for several minutes.
“If you witness a group of juvenile delinquents torturing a dog or cat, chasing the animal as it runs to catch the animal’s tail and throwing the animal to the ground, over and over,” Hindi pointed out, “the obvious, natural response would be to call the police, and have the little monsters up on charges. They might be forced to go to a counselor. They might spend some time in a youth detention home. The parents of the creepy kids might even be faced with fines and charges of their own.
“In Boone County, McHenry County, and neighboring counties that allow charreada,” Hindi asked rhetorically, “should juvenile delinquents now be allowed to get off the hook by accurately claiming that what they are doing is almost identical to what occurs” in charreada?
Cowed or steered
Hindi on June 15, 2023 delivered a similar speech to the Boone County board of supervisors, backed by one board member.
The remainder of the Boone County and McHenry County boards of supervisors appear to remain cowed, or steered.
“Virtually all participants in charreada are Hispanic,” Hindi points out, “and they have latched onto a fake charge of racism to skulk past the punishment for animal abuse.
“But as for denying someone’s culture,” Hindi continues, “there are innumerable examples of Hispanic culture not only allowed to flourish, but are actually encouraged throughout the United States,” including Mexican restaurants, mariachi music, countless place names, and many historical monuments to Spanish and Mexican heritage, from the restored string of Catholic missions stretching up the California coast a day’s walk apart to Fort Augustine and the Alamo.
“Rodeos are at their foundation exhibitions of cruelty”
“Hispanic culture is rich in history, and there is plenty to be proud of,” emphasizes Hindi. “Abusing animals is not part of what should be celebrated, any more than American rodeos,” a frequent Showing Animals Respect & Kindness protest target for more than 30 years, “should be celebrated. Rodeos are at their foundations exhibitions of cruelty that capitalize on an animal’s fear of harm and attempted escape from pain, and possible injury and death.”
Inescapably problematic, though, are several demographic factors.
One is that while the simultaneous campaigns against cockfighting conducted by Showing Animals Respect & Kindness, the Humane Farming Association, and Animal Wellness Action continue to focus on traditional Appalachian and southern cockfighting venues, dominated by middle-aged to elderly “good old boys,” with strong local connections including within politics and law enforcement, most cockfighting participation now comes from an entirely different direction.
Rootless young men
Thus far into the 21st century, more than 95% of all the cockfighters who have been arrested outside of Appalachia have been relatively young men with Spanish surnames, and no stable community roots or employment to the extent that this can be determined from arrest reports, except within a few traditional cockfighting enclaves in California, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico.
Except that one needs more money and access to property to participate in charreada than to engage in cockfighting or even just betting on cockfights, Hispanic cockfighting and charreada appear to draw support from essentially the same pool of unaffiliated Spanish-speaking young men, mostly without local wives, girlfriends, or family, many of them relatively recent immigrants trying to rebuild a semblance of the rural community life they remember from before coming north.
No exposure to animal advocacy or humane education
This is a population who have mostly never been exposed to animal advocacy or humane education conducted in Spanish: not by the substantial Mexican humane community, active in urban areas, especially Mexico City, and not in the U.S. either.
There are hundreds and perhaps thousands of Spanish-speaking community humane leaders in the U.S. Southwest and in Florida, in particular, but most are women, in and around cities, addressing dog and cat issues, and––of necessity––working mostly in English.
Forestall growth of crime & cruelty under guise as “culture”
There is a huge need for welcoming Spanish-speaking outreach to the immigrant community, to introduce humane values and forestall further growth of cockfighting and charreada before they become entrenched by default as “Mexican culture,” even though they are no more “Mexican culture” than the Mafia ever was “Italian culture,” or tong wars and opium dens ever were “Chinese culture.”
Showing Animals Respect & Kindness is, essentially, a crime-fighting organization, helping to uphold mainstream community values pertaining to the treatment of animals.
To do more than expose and fight against the most egregious abuses, though, it is necessary that there also be Spanish-speaking “social workers” on behalf of animals, helping to teach and share mainstream humane values to young men whose workday jobs may be in factory farms and slaughterhouses.
Showing Animals Respect & Kindness cannot do that. But a national Spanish-speaking humane organization could, if Spanish-speaking humane leadership could step up to start one.