Whilst members of Quaker Concern for Animals gathered for our AGM at Friends’ House in London on Saturday, May 11, we held in the Light the anti-bullfight campaigners, who were holding a major two day rally in the corrida town of Alès.
This Breton campaigner says:
‘The bull has a soul, but you…?
CRAC Europe, the oldest association in the struggle for abolition of the bullfight, created in 1991, was the organiser of this international event, which we report below:
Ales, wake up, the Middle Ages are long gone!
Ales, you have grown up, your suits of lights are too small
The Paris bus arrived in the vicinity of Alès on the morning of May 11 and a police patrol stopped us, asking where we were from, how many we were, and where we were staying. The police were cordial, gave us plans of the town and its off-limit areas and escorted us to Colombier park. Campaigners were waiting there behind a barrier and could not move out without good reason. There was concern among the demonstrators about the risk of being confined to an unfrequented part of town.
Riot police and officers in plain clothes were everywhere. Buses arrived, escorted by police.
The chief of police introduced himself, assuring us that he would do everything to make our stay in Alès pleasant – a good start !
Demonstrators contined to flow into the park, speaking French of course – including with Belgian accents, Catalan, Spanish, Italian and English, and when Jean-Pierre Garrigues, president of CRAC, arrived, we were very numerous in our famous red tee shirts, symbol of the demo.
First demonstration and first bullfight :
(Reminder: 6 bulls were tortured and killed at the bullfight)
Good news: the meeting with the Deputy Prefect on the evening before had been fruitful and the planned march route would allow us to approach the bullring and the fair.
An extract from a letter sent by Brigitte Bardot was read by Christophe Marie, of her Foundation.
National TV channels and newspaper reporters interviewed the speakers and campaigners.
The march set off and it was soon apparent that the majority of local residents supported us, some opening their windows to applaud.
Enough of the bullfight!
Banner on the bridge over the Gardon
This was the first time in my experience that a demonstration for an animal cause had been so warmly welcomed. We only came upon two people whose attitudes were aggressive and provocative. Support from the public was particularly obvious along the banks of the Gardon.
Torture is not a show
‘This is what bulls are like’ – the poster on the right shows Fadjen, the Spanish bull rescued by Christophe Thomas and now living in France.
When we arrived at the bullring, we saw that two barriers had been erected, manned by riot police.
Some bullfight supporters, coming out from the first corrida of the weekend, passed behind the police – one of them shouted out an insult which enraged campaigners. A request was made that they should be contained far away from us, since all efforts had been made to keep us at a distance!
The situation became charged, campaigners’ discontent was growing as they whistled and shouted their determination to make bullfighting torture disappear.
The police lost their cool and started using teargas. The deputy director of the Gard region himself admitted to Jean-Pierre Garrigues that it was the provocation of the bullfighting supporters and certain over-zealous police officers who had caused this slip-up.
At the same time, a lorry full of Camargue bulls was passing further down and somone on the top of the vehicle was striking the bulls with a pike. Plastic water bottles were thrown, and a chair at the person using a pike on the bulls, which is of course regrettable. Why had the authorities not simply closed the road lower down and avoided conflict? Someone on the lorry threw a stone and hit a demonstrator and an official complaint is being lodged.
Sunday 12 May, second demonstration and second corrida:
The next morning we were determined to get ourselves heard even more clearly. Paolo, an Italian cyclist, had come by bike from Turin: cycle for the bulls.
We followed a different route, but again felt the support of the vast majority of the local population. The speech by Jean-Marc Montegnies, who had attended the Saturday afternoon corrida in order to bear witness in words and pictures to the cruelty of the bullfight, moved the campaigners. It was shocking to hear that a young bull whose belly had been pierced by a sword and whose entrails were falling out was the subject of joking by the fans, who were comparing him to a Christmas tree.
Sunday afternoon, last demo and last corrida :
The sound system lorry with Jean-Pierre and 20 demonstrators carrying flags was allowed to enter the off-limits area of the fair, whilst the thousands of others stayed outside in accordance with police instructions, whistling and shouting for the abolition of the bullfight.
~ Jean-Pierre Garrigues, President of CRAC.
The demo ended with a few minutes of meditation in memory of the bulls tortured in Alès this weekend which we wanted to be the « week-end of abolition ». On Sunday, we reiterated our promise to rid Alès for ever of the shame of the bullfight – before moving on to the next town!
Thanks go to all the demonstrators and volunteers. Those who couldn’t attend this time, please join us !
Muriel FUSI, CRAC Europe representative for the Ile de France region.
Bullfighting is a crime.
Support from Spain:
ENOUGH! no more bullfights.
The Hispanic network Animanaturalis.
And support from Britain.
Pictures above in this post have been selected from the complete photo report of the demonstrations in Alès, which contains a great number of wonderful pictures of this extraordinary event:
Before the 1st. demo on May 11:
1st. demo on May 11:
2nd. demo on May 12:
3rd. demo on May 12:
Important: permission to use the photos has been granted, but QCA is happy to acknowledge them as the intellectual property of Jean-Pierre Garrigues, President of Comité Radicalement Anti-Corrida (CRAC)
Abridged and translated by Marian Hussenbux.