PETA stages Vick protest at NFL headquarters; more demonstrations set

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NEW YORK – Wielding posters with messages like “Sack Vick,” animal activists staged a midtown Manhattan protest on Friday to urge the NFL to ground quarterback Michael Vick because of his indictment on dogfighting charges.

“We hope (the NFL) would go ahead and suspend him now,” Mike Brazell, campaign coordinator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said at the demonstration outside the NFL’s Park Ave. offices.

“He’s not on a field with people who are heroes and role models,” Brazell said. “He’s definitely not that. He shouldn’t be associated with (players) who are what their fans expect them to be.”

More than 75 PETA demonstrators and impromptu supporters lined the sidewalk and engaged in a 90-minute peaceful demonstration.

PETA plans to take its cause to the Falcons’ training camp in Flowery Branch, Ga., on Monday and will greet Vick at the Richmond (Va.) federal courthouse Thursday when the three-time Pro Bowler is arraigned.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has yet to rule on the Vick matter. ESPN.com reported on Friday that the league and the players’ union may urge Vick, 27, to take a voluntary leave of absence.

Meanwhile, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) condemned dogfighting as “barbaric” in his address on the Senate floor, while 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Goodell urging Vick’s suspension.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Goodell met Friday with Ed Sayres, president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The partnership began earlier this year and educates NFL players and the public “on the importance of caring properly for animals.”

If convicted, Vick, in the middle of a 10-year, $130 million deal, could face six years in prison and $350,000 in fines.

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