Last weekend PALS hosted two rodeo protests at the yearly PRCA Helzapoppin Rodeo in Buckeye, a showcase of cruelty to animals.
We had some hardships, but nothing compared to that of the animals. It began even before the day of the protest. The City of Buckeye told us that because our protest was on unpaved land, we needed a permit to protest. In addition to a “traffic plan” this permit required proof of insurance, and a hefty fee of $160. We were shocked.
In our years of organizing protests we have never had this issue. We didn’t give in to their requirements, which we considered unnecessary and ridiculous. As a grassroots organization we have a First Amendment right to peaceably assemble on public land. After some back and forth discussion with officials at the City of Buckeye, we ended up only needing to get a traffic plan approved.
Other challenges faced us on the days of the protests. On both days, it was cold and rainy. For many of us it was our first time protesting in the rain. Activists prepared by using waterproof (styrofoam/plastic) posters, vinyl banners, framed signs, clear plastic over their posters, and of course umbrellas.
Owners of the business we were lined up in front of came out on both days to confront us. They displayed their immaturity with drunken chanting and topped it off by throwing a ball at us from behind, even though there were several children at the demonstration. Luckily no one was hit.
Although it was rainy, parking was far away, and we were treated with hostility, activists remained motivated and positive. If anything, the hardships strengthened our resolve.
We knew that we were doing the right thing by speaking up for animals abused in the rodeo, whose hardships were so much worse than ours.
We were honored to stand with such dedicated activists. Thank you so much to all who attended!