Protesters on horseback demonstrated outside of Los Angeles’s city hall on Wednesday as the city council advanced a measure that could ban rodeos throughout the city.
The proposal for the ban has been advanced by animal rights supporters, who say rodeo events that involve animals being ridden bareback, roped or dragged to the ground are cruel and painful to the animals involved.
Opponents of the ban argued it “attacked” and “criminalized” Latino cultural traditions.
“I’m here to support the charreía,” Geronimo Bugarin told the city council, referencing the Mexican equestrian tradition that has been listed by Unesco as an important cultural practice. “This goes back to 1845, before the state of California was the state of the union. It’s our culture, it is in our blood, and it needs to be defended.”
Bugarin was one of dozens of protesters in traditional attire, including cowboy hats and boots, who showed up to offer testimony in the city council meeting and hold a rally in the streets outside.
More than a dozen of these demonstrators appeared on horseback, many of them carrying US and California state flags, according to footage of the demonstration. At one point, city councilmember Monica Rodriguez, who spoke in defense of Latino equestrian traditions, demonstrated her facility with a lasso.
“I take issue with the ordinance because it would criminalize certain communities (Black, Indigenous and Latino) more than others in their ability to carry on cultural practices passed on from generation to generation,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “I appreciate wanting to protect animals. We all want that – including the cowboys and charros that came to City Hall.”
During the council’s public comment session, other local residents spoke out about the value of protecting California’s Black rodeo traditions, while some pushed back on the argument that laws protecting animals were an attack on anyone’s cultural traditions, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“As a proud Latina, I can tell you that I know that torture is not entertainment,” one commenter said.
The council ultimately voted 14 to 0 to ask the city attorney to prepare an ordinance that would prohibit rodeos within the city of Los Angeles, but that would create an exemption for “charreada events, American Indian, Native American, Indigenous Rodeo, Mexican Charreria, and Escaramuza” events, as long as they did not engage in prohibited acts, including bareback bronc riding and calf roping.