Protesters charged with public mischief after disrupting Calgary Stampede’s Rangeland Derby
Published Saturday, July 5, 2014 11:17AM MDT Last Updated Saturday, July 5, 2014 7:22PM MDT
Two activists secured themselves to the rails of the racetrack during Friday night’s Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races in protest of the event which has claimed the lives of horses in each of the last nine years of the Rangeland Derby.
The two women, members of the Vancouver Animal Defense League, fastened themselves to the metal rails using bike locks, temporarily delaying the start of the evening’s races. The women, identified by the organization as volunteers Samantha Baskerville and Marley Daviduk, displayed signs with messages of 'No more dead horses' and 'Blood Sport'.
Calgary Stampede security and members of the Calgary Police Service removed the locks from the rails and escorted the women from the premises.
“We safely removed them from the railing and we transported them to a district office where we are speaking to them and laying the appropriate charges if necessary,” said CPS Insp. Barry Balerud. “We’re not sure how they gained access to the infield.”
“We appreciate that people have the right to protest but, in this case, it was done in a way where it stopped the chuckwagon races.”
Following the incident, an official with the Calgary Stampede said the Stampede places an emphasis on the safety of all guests, including the protesters, and the demonstration only temporarily delayed the evening’s entertainment for the thousands in the Stampede Grandstand.
“We had a couple of trespassers who did not want the race to go on, and we had 16,000 people who did,” said Bonni Clark of the Calgary Stampede. “We understand that there are some people that will fundamentally never agree with the use of animals as a working animal whether that be in food production or whether that be in exhibition or competition. We understand that those people have opinions and have a right to that opinion.”
A member of the Vancouver Animal Defense League says the actions of the protesters is a necessary escalation from the picket sign demonstrations which have not resulted in a change in the way the Calgary Stampede utilizes horses.
“Horses die virtually every year in the Calgary Stampede ‘deathwagon’ race,” said Len Goldberg of the Vancouver Animal Defense League. “Somebody has got to take a stand. Holding a sign isn’t getting the job done. It’s time to push the envelope and save the horses.”
Chuckwagon driver Jason Glass, the reigning Rangeland Derby champion, believes the anti-chuckwagon stance of the protesters is rooted in a lack of education about the sport and he’s willing to discuss horses with the organization.
“I’d like them to phone me, we could talk,” said Glass. “I’d love to invite them to my barn, come to my farm and get to know what we do. They need to get educated and maybe they’ll fall in love with these horses like we do. I don’t think they like horses, they’re doing it for a different cause and I don’t understand it.”
“We love our horses and they love their job.”