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Animal Rights group sees red over Pepsi bullring ads

Wednesday, May 12, 1999

THE JOURNAL NEWS

By Jeff Mangum

PURCHASE- The web site address isn't subtle: www.PepsiBloodbath.com

And the web site itself isn't subtle either, showing what creator Steve Hindi says are pictures of bullfighters in Mexico doing what bullfighters do, against a backdrop of stadium advertising for Pepsi-Cola.

Hindi, a 44-year-old animal rights activist from Geneva , IL . wants Pepsi's parent company, PepsiCo Inc. in Purchase, to stop promoting its flagship soda at bullfights. Hindi calls bullfighting "horrific," and said that ads imply that PepsiCo tacitly supports bullfighting.

"When animals are vomiting blood and dying under Pepsi banners, what you see is a bull dying and a Pepsi banner," said Hindi, who heads a small group called Showing Animals Respect and Kindness.

Hindi wrote the company last June to assail "the systematic torture and killing of 27 animals" videotaped at more than a dozen Mexican bullrings. "We noted companies who support this carnage with advertisements, none of which was more prominent than Pepsi-Cola."

PepsiCo in correspondence provided by Hindi, said that it does not fund or sponsor bullfights and that "as a company, we would never condone cruelty toward animals. These banners remain in place for all activities held at these venues, including sporting events and local festivals."

The company reiterated its position yesterday.

Hindi said the company's response "really ticked us off because all of the places we went to were 'plaza de toros'-they were bullrings." Consequently, Hindi said, activists started showing the bullfighting videotape on public access cable television stations and started PepsiBloodbath.com last October.

The latest twist came last Wednesday, when Hindi said he was denied access to PepsiCo's annual meeting in Purchase. Hindi said company officials told him they had received a bomb threat from a caller in Illinois who mentioned bullfighting.

"I said, I don't do bomb threats-nobody I know does bomb threats," Hindi said.

PepsiCo spokesman Jeff Brown said yesterday he did not have any details on the incident.

Hindi, co-owner of a rivet company in Illinois , said he learned to hunt as a child but became an animal rights activist about 10 years ago in dismay over a popular pigeon shoot in Hegins , Pa.

He has been arrested several times in animal rights protests, including one in 1996 in which he was charged with hunter interference for flying an ultra-light aircraft over a hunt club in McHenry County , IL . to shoo waterfowl away from the hunters.

Hindi said that his group has more than a dozen active members and about 1,000 supporters, and that it has recently backed away from direct protests.

"What we prefer is to go out with our cameras and shoot what we're upset about, show it to other people and let them make up their own minds," Hindi said. "It was so much more effective than just running around with signs, which I just hated."