On October 8, 2011 in Rodilhan, France, 95 militant activists from the groups CRAC Europe, Droits des Animaux (France), and Animaux en Peril (Belgium) staged a well-executed occupation of a bullfighting arena. As 35 of these individuals who were positioned throughout the stands rose to their feet displaying signs denouncing the horrific event, authorities and spectators immediately began to swarm them in an attempt to subdue and eject these activists. Simultaneously, 65 of their comrades stormed the field and chained themselves together creating a human blockade, completely disrupting the planned exhibition of animal torture.
CRAC Europe’s official press release in French may be read HERE. Following is an exclusive interview with one of the courageous French activists, Muriel F. Noé.
Negotiation Is Over: Can you tell me how long it took to prepare for this action? Did you practice at all before this was staged or did you just show up and do it?
Muriel F. Noé: At the beginning of the video, you can see us practicing. The whole group didn’t practice more than one hour. It was just to learn how to run, sit and lock the chains as quickly as possible.
I don’t know how much time it can take to prepare this kind of action because one of our leaders had the experience in preparing it. It was the first time with 95 activists! French animal lovers are very angry with the government for officially declaring that bullfighting is a French tradition. So there are more and more people interested in fighting against this spectacle.
Negotiation Is Over: This was an extremely well-coordinated action. The activists who disrupted the event from the stands with their signs seemed to have distracted the animal-abusing criminals while your comrades took over the arena. Did you use any other props besides signs and body chains?
Muriel F. Noé: You are right, activists with their signs were there to distract bullfight lovers. Thanks to them, everybody succeded in reaching the center of the arena. We knew that before jumping we had to wait for the first group to show their signs.
Negotiation Is Over: What was the red spray that you released when you and your comrades initially took over the arena?
Muriel F. Noé: It was fumigenes (in French, I don’t know the word in English) but it was not a good idea because animal abusers took the fumigenes and threw them at us. It could have seriously burnt someone.
Negotiation Is Over: For how long did the entire occupation last?
Muriel F. Noé: 30 minutes.
Negotiation Is Over: During this non-violent demonstration, your group of peaceful protestors were beaten, kicked, punched, dragged, and violently assaulted by the bloodthirsty crowd. Was it a strategic move not to fight back?
Muriel F. Noé: Yes, we had been instructed not to fight back. Last year in a similar action, an activist reacted rudely and the newspapers published only one photo: the one in which we can see this man being rude.
The leaders of the associations have invited peaceful activists who don’t go crazy, and who don’t scream insults. We wanted to show that we are not violent people and that the bullfight lovers are the real terrorists.
Negotiation Is Over: Were any of you seriously injured?
Muriel F. Noé: 20 activists were seriously injured. One girl has a broken leg. Many of the injured activists are under doctors’ advice to not go to work for 5 to 10 days. They all have medical certificates and they filed charges at the police station. Associations are going to join them to go to court.
Some girls were sexually assaulted (not raped) by men trying to take off their clothes and to touch them intimately. It’s crazy because there were children watching everything.
Bullfight lovers didn’t hesitate to be violent in front of their kids. In the video you can see 2 cops just watching without trying to interfere. We can see the city mayor taking photos! Women were really violent too!
Negotiation Is Over: Were any of the violent people that viciously attacked you arrested? How many protestors were arrested?
Muriel F. Noé: Nobody was arrested. Thanks to the video and photos, police are able to find the violent people. I hope that they will be punished. Peaceful protestors won’t be charged for anything.
Negotiation Is Over: NIO’s philosophy is that we must be creative and act outside the box to sabotage, disrupt, and destroy abusers and their torture operations. Many activists have tired of waving signs and we are no longer content to be relegated to chanting behind police barricades. What advice can you give other activists who now seek to adopt your tactics and empower themselves to fight more effectively?
Muriel F. Noé: I totally agree with you. I am tired of writing letters, signing petitions etc… it just doesn’t work. We are looking for new methods, but we will always be peaceful. We won’t attack or injure people. We have to be more and more creative because animal abusers are aware of our methods.
It is no surprise that the sadists who enjoy torturing and murdering defenseless animals have no compunction about visiting their brutality and violence upon activists who peacefully protest. Another of the dedicated occupiers, Julia Lcs, observes: “the public had their thumbs down, which means that they were wanting our execution.”
While courageous underground activists have had unparalleled success in shutting down abusers by employing such tools as car bombs or arson, as above ground activists we, too, must escalate our tactics and prepare ourselves to continually disrupt and impede the purveyors of death. This courageous group of non-violent activists has set an example for us all in showing us how to throw our bodies on the machine. The October 8 bullfight was the final of a tournament for young men. The bulls were not adults but young animals that scream to call for their mothers while the torero tortures them. It’s terrible. After the occupiers had been removed from the arena, some of their friends stayed behind to continue filming and, sadly, remained and witnessed the ultimate slaughter of the nonhuman victims that day. However, we all need to understand that, although we rarely, if ever, stop abusers in their tracks, we need to be inspired and encouraged by one another as we begin to drop our signs and move forward sharing a more aggressive, creative, and tactical arsenal.