California racetrack suing animal-rights activists for disrupting horse racing: report


Four animal-rights activists who were arrested in California earlier this month for disrupting a day of racing at a horse track are now being sued by the track’s owners, according to a report.

The owners of Golden Gate Fields in the San Francisco Bay Area claim the activists’ March 4 protest caused one horse race to be canceled and six others to be postponed, FOX 2 of the Bay Area reported.

The suit names as defendants the Berkeley-based group Direct Action Everywhere and four members, identified as Omar Aicardi, 43, of Modesto; Rachel Ziegler, 28, and James Crom, 29, both of Oakland; and Rocky Chau, 32, of San Francisco, according to the report.

The four activists are accused of climbing a fence so they could lie down on the horse track and interrupt the day of racing, the report said. All four were later arrested, cited for trespassing and released, police in Albany, Calif., where the track is located, told FOX 2.

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The emergemcy response to the protest forced the cancelation of coronavirus vaccinations at a nearby facility, affecting vaccination appointments for about 200 people, according to the news outlet.

Track owners The Stronach Group are seeking monetary damages, legal fees and permanent bans from the track for the four group members, the report said.

The lawsuit was filed March 9 in Alameda County Superior Court.

Direct Action Everywhere spokesman Matt Johnson told FOX 2 the group’s goal is to have the racetrack permanently shut down, pointing to the deaths of 27 horses there in 2020 and six horses so far this year.

“This is a brutal industry that exploits horses, it exploits workers, it exploits people with gambling addiction and we’re standing with a rising majority of the public in saying that we’re better off without places like that,” Johnson said.

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Racetrack representatives did not immediately respond to FOX 2’s request for comment.

In Southern California, Santa Anita Park in Arcadia has also drawn scrutiny over horse deaths. For example, more than 40 horses died at that track between December 2018 and January 2020.

Santa Anita Park is scheduled to reopen April 2 after a state-imposed coronavirus-policy shutdown, City News Service reported.

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