The Berkeley-based animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere, or DxE, held a demonstration Sunday protesting horse deaths at Golden Gate Fields, or GGF, an American horse racing track in Berkeley.
The protest was funeral-themed, according to a DxE press release. Demonstrators dressed in black and held flowers, placards, banners and 26 tombstones with the names of the horses that died this year at GGF.
“It’s shameful that GGF — the deadliest track in California — continues killing horses for profit, right in our backyard,” said DxE lead organizer Almira Tanner in a press release. “Berkeley residents, and the rest of society, is very ready to move past this barbaric industry once and for all.”
Sunday’s protest was not DxE’s first demonstration, said Cassie King, a DxE organizer. According to the press release, DxE is involved in a lawsuit with GGF, who filed a complaint following a series of demonstrations at the track.
The press release added GGF’s complaint claims “activists posed serious health risks to horses.” However, zero fatalities occurred while activists were present, according to the press release.
Despite heavy rainfall, 26 protesters attended Sunday’s event, King noted.
“We decided not to cancel the protest because the horses were still forced to race in the rain,” King said in an email. “Community members seem supportive of the protests, and local media has consistently covered the protests positively.”
Over the past decade, an estimated 7,500 thoroughbred horses are slaughtered annually for human consumption, according to a USA Today news article.
Roughly 600 die because of racing each year.
“(At GGF), horses are often killed after they sustain injuries on the track, like Inimitable who was killed last month after falling during the first race of the day,” King said in the email.
The press release adds that the city of Berkeley requested an investigation on the deaths of GGF horses in 2020 and public support for the industry has declined.
King encouraged supporters of DxE to sign the “Shut Down Golden Gate Fields” petition, which is available on its website.
“Horses are individuals with their own unique personalities and interests. They do not exist for humans to exploit them and profit off them,” King said in the email. “With the memorial, we are honoring their lives and continuing to fight for their freedom.”