Louisiana Native protests cockfighting laws

[Baton Rouge]- Some call it a blood sport. Others call it a traditional Louisiana sport. But whatever the view, cockfighting is illegal in Louisiana, the last state in the nation to outlaw it. Louisiana native Jim Demorelli says he’s fed up with Louisiana’s ban on cockfighting, and wants some sort of protection for the show birds he raises. “It’s simply absurd that someone walking on the street who sees me in my yard with my birds can claim I’m having cockfights, and then I get my birds taken away and they are euthanized. There some be some sort of protection for the animals if the owner was never convicted.”

Right now in Louisiana it is illegal to host any sort of cockfighting, however there is no penalty for simply watching. Lawmakers are trying to change that and make every aspect of participation illegal. Diana Morales, a participant in the Louisiana humane society recalled during the meeting one of the largest cockfighting rings bust in the state which involved over 400 people, at a cost of 35 dollars per person and you had to have a minimum of 7 birds at 150 dollars a per bird. “When we went in with the state police of course everyone just said they were watching and they were all allowed to get up and leave. The few that were stupid enough to say ‘these are my birds’ were charged with cockfighting. But most of them were allowed to leave because they said they were there just to watch.” Morales also tells us that Calcasieu Parish alone spent over 20,000 dollars to go in and assist in labor, professional, legal, veterinarian, and ultimately euthanize 750 birds. Morales claimed it took a tremendous amount of time and money because every bird had to be processed as evidence. That is money Louisiana cannot afford to spend anymore. “It’s huge. And now, the man that hosted it just picked up and left and is now cockfighting in Kentucky,” says Morales.

While many are okay with the ban, others are angry and the amount of revenue that will be lost because of the ban. There are other aspects to cockfighting besides the sport itself. Many raise and sell these chickens, as well as the gambling that is involved as well. The law "is putting a lot of people out of business,” protested Demorelli on Tuesday to members of the Louisiana senate. Demorelli. Although cockfighting is illegal in Louisiana, raising show birds isn’t. Demorelli said during the meeting, “Although Senators I’m sure you’ve made up your minds on cockfighting, I would like the law to read someone in there that in an event of an acquittal or discharge with no conviction of this crime that all birds are returned to the owner and aren’t euthanized.” Senator Martiny also argued on behalf of Mr. Demorelli even claiming at one point, “Even though people that drink and drive and violate my civil rights when they get on the road, cockfighting doesn’t.” Demorelli asked that the senators amend the law to protect his chickens.

Senator Yvonne Dorsey agreed at one point with Demorelli, but claimed the proposed changes were not jermaine to the bill, and offered advice to Demorelli to speak to his legislator on a proposed new bill to protect the birds in such situations.

Senate Bill 38 which creates the crime of participating in cockfighting was moved favorably.