On several occasions, fans drove their cars directly at the activists, attempting to run them over, while police officers stood by, unfazed. Only 400 or so ticket holders were able to make it past the activists, and even then, only with a police escort. Activists succeeded in turning away several dozen cars full of fans. Videos on Facebook show police telling fans to turn around and try another road. All but one of the roads were blocked. The activists' strategy, if it was not successful in "stopping the massacre of bulls," undoubtedly achieved one goal – to destabilize the organizers and fans of the spectacle.
In one violent scuffle, a police officer in riot gear punched and kicked a 55 year-old female activist so hard he broke her leg. All she was doing was sitting in the road, said witnesses. Several activists reported that the officer looked "out of control and in a rage." The same officer then punched another female activist. "He punched her, beat her badly," said Ms. Anaiis. "The other cops pulled him off of her. She wasn't even doing anything! This cop was crazy, a crazy man!"
Videos posted on Facebook show officers spraying seated activists with teargas at point blank range over and over again. "Stay where you are!" yells one of the activists as many of them scatter from the blinding and asphyxiating gas, "You won't feel any better over there, so just stay where you are and continue blocking the road!"
Serge Reder, Rodilhan's mayor, a notorious bullfighting fan who is currently facing charges of assault for a 2011 incident in which he participated with bullfighting fans in the serious beating of animal rights activists, seemed to have prepared for war, not the management of a peaceful demonstration. On Saturday, he announced to the town's 9000 inhabitants to stay inside Sunday as no one would be allowed to circulate because of the heavy security around the bullfighting arena. He asked the French government to provide over 250 police officers to secure the perimeter of the village and to keep protesters from disrupting the bullfight as they had achieved in 2011.
"We are very happy; this was a big step forward strategically" said Roger Lahana, vice president of CRAC Europe, the leading anti-bullfighting organization in France. When we saw that the town had blocked the five roads leading to the arena, we quickly devised our strategy to divide activists into five groups and block all entrances to the town. Mr. Lahana told this reporter that he was very pleased to have succeeded in delaying and perturbing the bullfighting activities all day long.
There were 10 arrests and the several activists who were punched, gassed and kicked by police officers will be pressing charges later this week.
A video taken by Simone Viau, who posted it on Facebook, shows a scene from later in the afternoon, only 100 meters from the arena. In it, a small group of activists pace the street right in front of the barricades, heads bowed, crying quietly as the heart-wrenching cries of a calf being stabbed to death pierce the smoke-filled air. The activists stop chanting, the sirens have stopped blaring and all is quiet but for the guttural moans of the calf, who bleeds out in agony. It sounds like he is crying for his mother. On the other side of the wall, so close, is the sequined killer in pink tights and his accomplices. When the calf's screams fade, incredibly, one can hear polite applause from spectators as if they were at the ballet. At that moment, Jean-Pierre Garrigues, president of CRAC Europe, roars with authoritative rage into his bullhorn, "You sadists! You perverts! You twisted, vile barbarians! This is a scandal! You've turned France to shit! When will you stop this torture, you criminals?"