Cockfight raid
nets 3 arrests

Police find blood and feathers
and a dead chicken in a Maili
ring with 500 onlookers

By Rosemarie Bernardo

More than 500 onlookers stood by as police arrested three men following a raid on a cockfight in Maili yesterday.

"We want to let everyone know that the killing of animals for sports or entertainment is not acceptable and that the Honolulu Police Department will rigorously enforce the laws regarding cruelty to animals," said Sgt. Kyle Yonemura of the Kapolei Police Station.

About 21 officers, including some from the Crime Reduction Unit and the Narcotics/Vice Division, participated in the raid on a private lot along Mailiili Road around 3 p.m.

A 30-year-old Waianae man, who was arrested for cruelty to animals yesterday, said, "This has been going on for so many years. It's a cultural thing. How can anybody stop a cultural thing?"

Police also arrested a 49-year-old Ewa man and a 28-year-old Waialua man for cruelty to animals and possession of gaffs -- small metal knives attached to the rooster's leg.

Residents from Waimanalo to Waianae gathered at the square-shaped ring to watch the cockfight yesterday.

Kalihi resident Gino Caspillan said he's attended cockfights since he was 10 years old and described cockfighting as a sport. Despite police efforts to terminate cockfighting in Hawaii, Caspillan, now 23, said, "People have a way of making things continue."

Blood and feathers were scattered within the dirt ring surrounded by wooden bleachers and numerous ladders for observers to get a better view of the cockfight.

A dead chicken lay in the middle of the ring as police arrested the three men.

Yonemura noted police have conducted previous raids in the same area.

"It's (cockfighting) their entertainment," he said.

Eve Holt, spokeswoman for the Hawaiian Humane Society, said, "This should not be going on in a civilized society."

Holt and veterinarian Carlene Takushi arrived at the ring after the raid.

Holt was enraged that children were among the observers. She hopes lawmakers will impose harsher penalties for cockfighting.

Officials from the Hawaiian Humane Society plan to reintroduce a bill at the Legislature next year that would change the penalty for cruelty to animals to a felony from a misdemeanor.

A similar bill stalled during the 2001 session.

"We hope to get public support, that they are as disgusted by what they see here today as we are," she said.

In 2001 Senate Bill 2547, Senate Draft 1, making cruelty to animals a Class C felony passed the Senate but stalled in the House.

State Rep. Eric Hamakawa (D, South Hilo, Puna), then chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he did not want to hear the bill because it was poorly written.

Cockfighting is a felony in 27 states, but is a misdemeanor in 20 states, including Hawaii. It is legal in Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

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