30 March 2010

Two resolutions pass in Hawaii to protect cockfighting as a ‘cultural activity’

Hawaii’s House Cultural Affairs Committee passed two resolutions that called for legislative support that could lead to the cruel “sport” of cockfighting being protected as a cultural activity.

Cockfighting is illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and is currently a misdemeanor that carries a maximum fine of $2,000 and 1 year of prison under Hawaiian state law. The Humane Society of the United States of America (HSUS) ranked the “Aloha State” 47th in its 2009 state cockfighting laws report, obviously quite weak. For comparative purposes, in number one ranked Colorado it’s a class 5 felony carrying 1-3 years in the big house if you participate, possess birds for fighting or even if you are just watching the event.

Those who enjoy the blood sport though don’t see what all of the fuss is about.

In an interview with KITV 4, Pat Royos, an individual who along with her husband raises roosters to participate in the death matches said, "We are tired of being arrested. The thing is when we practice our culture, they come and arrest us."

Another cockfighting supporter compared the possible cultural denial of Japanese Bon dancing—at last check Bon dancing doesn’t involve fights to the death—to the illegalization of his beloved rooster mêlée’s.

Pamela Burns the director of the Hawaiian Humane Society seems to disagree, she told KITV, "It is not a cultural activity at all. What you have is a small group of people who are involved in cockfighting trying to undermine the integrity of the Animal Cruelty Law."

According to HSUS, cockfighting and other nefarious activities go together like peanut butter and jelly. Crimes including homicide, narcotics and illegal gambling seem to occur in conjunction with cockfighting events. Here’s a small sampling of those crimes, courtesy of HSUS:

• April 2009: While arresting a suspected murderer, officers from the Monroe County, Ga., Sheriff's Department, the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force and the West Point Police Department uncover a suspected dog-fighting ring. Along with a stash of firearms, officers find 13 badly scarred pit bulls and dogfighting equipment. (Athens Banner Herald, 04/30/09)
• March 2009: During a raid on a Calif. cockfighting operation, Fresno County Sherrif Deputy Chris Curtice told media, "In years past, we have [had] a lot of other crimes associated with cockfights. We've had several murders, shootings, assaults, drug issues, weapons charges. A variety of things come as a result of these cockfights. That's why our department takes it so seriously." (Fresno Bee, 03/07/09)
• January 2009: Local media reported that a spectator at an illegal cockfight in Cebu City in the Philippines was gunned down, reportedly in a drive-by shooting by a man on a motorcycle. (Cebu Daily News, 01/09/09)
• April 2008: Five men were reportedly hospitalized in serious condition after being stabbed at a cockfight in Valenzuela City in the Philippines, apparently after an argument over gambling. (GMANews.TV, 04/08/08)
• March 2007: One man was shot to death and another was arrested in an early morning gunfight in Makaha, Hawaii, during what appeared to be a botched robbery of a cockfighting operation. (The Honolulu Advertiser, 03/25/07)
• January 2007: A Filipino mayor and his deputy were reportedly gunned down, and seven others were injured at a cockfight in San Jose City in the Philippines. (Agence France-Presse, 01/16/07)
• September 2006: An argument over the outcome of an illegal cockfight in Fort Bend County, Texas, allegedly erupted into gunfire, leaving one man dead and another seriously wounded. (Dallas Morning News, 9/3/06)
• August 2006: A San Diego, Calif., man surrendered to authorities allegedly in connection with the murder of a fellow cockfight spectator in Good Hope. (The Press-Enterprise, 4/18/06)
• May 2006: Two men were shot dead at an illegal cockfight in rural Texas. The two murdered men were regulars at cockfights on the farm where they were found dead, according to authorities. (The Monitor, 5/3/06)
• February 2006: A 24-year-old Sacramento, Calif., man died from gunshot wounds he allegedly received in a dispute over an illegal rooster fight. (The Sacramento Bee, 2/20/06)

Considering the inhumane nature of the events, the bad apples the "sport" tends to draw and the fact that it is 2010, Hawaii please keep cockfighting illegal. In fact it’s probably time to investigate harsher sentences and once and for all quiet the few who support this twisted activity.

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Photo Credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/justhugo