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Police, animal-rights activist quarrel over bull-fighting video

Friday, October 23, 1998

KANE COUNTY CHRONICLE

By TONA KUNZ

GENEVA- A protest of animal abuse in bullfights has police clashing horns with an activist for making false statements.

Steve Hindi, president of Chicago animal Rights Coalition, sent out a press release Tuesday titled “Geneva Police Threaten Charges Over Bullfight Footage.”

Lt. Joe Frega said, “The headline and first paragraph is an out-and-out lie.”

I am inclined to seek legal recourse about fabrications against the city,” he added.

Hindi had a minivan parked on the northeast corner of State Street and Route 31 from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday. motorists could view footage of matadors stabbing bulls on 27- and 31-inch televisions in the open doors of the van. Two Geneva Police officers pulled up in a response to citizen complaint about the graphic nature of the video. The officers said they just wanted to see what was going on.

Hindi’s press release said, “ Geneva police last night threatened to file charges to stop the public display of video footage depicting bullfighting on Main Street , Geneva .”

In fact, Hindi repeatedly asked the officers to cite him, and they refused. However, the officers did say they would do research to see if the graphic display violated town ordinances or laws.

Research on Tuesday revealed no safety hazards or broken laws. “It’s a public place, and he has got a message,” Frega said.

“No threats were made. In fact the officers bent over backwards to uphold his constitutional rights,” he added.

Sgt. Steve Mexin did not ticket Hindi, even thought the Geneva resident was parked illegally in a non-marked parking space. Instead, Mexin told him to move his van back a few feet into a legal parking space.

The officers said they had seen him parked in front of Starbuck’s last week, and as long as he was in a public spot, not causing any accidents, it probably was OK. However, they said personally they did not think it was inappropriate for children to view.

“You are offending those who oppose this,” Mexin told Hindi. “You are not shocking those who support bull fighting. They will think this is cool. Turn the TV off and discuss this in an adult manner with adults, instead of a grotesque manner.”

Hindi helped film the bullfight in Mexico for distribution to animal rights activists groups in 31 cities across the country. He contends Pepsi condones bullfighting and the paralization of the bulls, along with the butchering of the bulls while conscious after the fights. The tape shows Pepsi advertisements displayed in the rings and arenas during the fights.

“I am showing in it Geneva because Pepsi is drank here,” he said. He also plans to show the tape in St. Charles , Wheaton and West Chicago this week, then head to Chicago.

“Activists agree that the footage is upsetting and are asking people to call and write Pepsi to discourage the soft-drink giant from endorsing animal cruelty,” he wrote in a press release. “People should know that Pepsi, a U.S. corporation, is involved in something that is illegal throughout the country. They are trying to portray themselves as an all-American corporation.”

“Pepsi does not support or sponsor bullfighting,” said Brad Shaw, Pepsi Co. spokesman.

“Taking our signs down is not going to stop bullfighting. Our competitors signs will just take their place. If they want to stop bull fighting, they need to talk to the people who organize bullfighting.”