Vick makes first anti-dogfighting appearance
Michael Vick, in the first of what he hopes will be dozens of appearances around the country to urge low-income youths to avoid dogfighting, spoke to a small gathering in Atlanta yesterday — but most press was banned from the event.
Vick’s visit to a suburban Atlanta community center was largely off limits — both to the news media and most members of the neighborhood it was supposed to be helping. Only 55 people and a crew from “60 Minutes” were allowed to attend, the Associated Press reported.
An Associated Press reporter, videographer and photographer were among the media banished from the property by police. Most people who live in the largely black neighborhood southeast of Atlanta were unaware of Vick’s appearance.
Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, said the group wants to be open and reach as many people as possible with its anti-dogfighting message, but Vick’s handlers insisted on tight controls on the meeting.
“We don’t want this to be a flash in the pan,” Pacelle said. “We are committed to transparency over the long run and having Michael involved in many community-based events to speak about the issue. I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but he wants the opportunity in a controlled setting to make his first statement on the issue. But I’m sure he’s going to be speaking out more based on what he had to say today.”
“We’re giving him an opportunity to plug into our community-based forums,” Pacelle said. “But he obviously has his own set of individuals who are working with him and want to present things in the way they want.”
Vick entered through a back door and spoke for about 12 minutes, Pacelle said. The small audience was moved by what it heard.
“He said he did wrong,” 17-year-old Stanley Jones said. “Now he’s trying to come up with a smarter way to help the whole community, for young people like us, to make a change.”
“The thing I got out of it was your past ain’t your potential,” said Antonio Frazier, a 24-year-old pit bull owner. “Everyone is entitled to redemption. … Now he wants to stand up and pay for what he’s done. He wants to give back to the community.”
A dog was taken into the building after Vick arrived, but Pacelle said the animal was kept in a separate room while the quarterback spoke. Vick is barred from being around dogs as part of his probation.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has conditionally lifted Vick’s ban from the league. He can participate in training camp and exhibition games, and would be eligible to return for the sixth week of the regular season if he has no further setbacks. Most NFL teams, however, have said they have no intention of signing him.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 9th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 60 minutes, anti-dogfighting, appearance, atlanta, campaign, community, dogfighting, first, hsus, humane society, meeting, michael vick, private, public, talk, urban, wayne pacelle, youth