RARA-AVIS: Cockfighting

From: Richard Moore ( moorich@aol.com)
Date: 09 Jan 2007

I was wrong in thinking cockfighting was legal in Georgia back in the 1950s. It was banned in the state in 1933. Here is part of a newspaper article on a cockfight raid in Barrow County (located between Atlanta and Athens) in 2004:

Officers found large groups sitting in circles inside a shed deep in the woods as bloodied roosters, with curved steel spurs attached to their legs, tore at one another. The unlucky losers were discarded in a heap to the side.

Money changed hands. Beer flowed freely. Someone manned a grill outside. But what most unsettled Barrow County Sheriff Joel Robinson were the children. More than three dozen of them. Some barely months old cradled in their mother's arms; most about 4 or 5 years old, hiding behind adult legs when officers arrived.

"That got to a lot of the officers," Robinson said. "All the kids down there, being exposed to all of this at such a young age." More than 24 hours after the raid, authorities on Monday night were still processing some of the 260 people arrested. The participants were charged with cruelty to animals and gaming.

The owner of the property, Larry Otis Fleming, and his wife, Misty, both 32, remained in custody Monday evening. The couple had purchased the property in March 2003, according to records. They lived on a single- wide mobile home on the premises.

"They held these events almost every Sunday, unless it rained or if it was cold. And they charged, I think, $10 for attendance," Robinson said. Officers recovered about 138 fighting roosters. They also found six dogs, but don't believe they had been forced to fight, said Maj. Murray Kogod. Ninety-three cars, some with tags from Florida and California, were seized. Only 20 of those were from within the state.

Cockfighting is illegal in many states, including Georgia, where it was outlawed in 1933. Still, gamecock farms in places like Hawkinsville and LaGrange advertise in trade magazines like Grit and Steel.

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