August 4, 2007
A racial divide emerged early in the Michael Vick dogfighting case and has persisted since his arraignment last week in federal court in Richmond.
The Atlanta Falcons quarterback has pleaded not guilty to federal dogfighting conspiracy charges. The brutal acts alleged in the indictment have prompted anti-Vick protests and have cost the player several lucrative endorsement deals.
At protests, the overwhelming majority of Vick's critics are white while his supporters are mostly black.
Earnest Hardy Senior lives next door to Vick's property in Surry County where authorities say the dogfighting enterprise operated. He calls the case a witch hunt targeting a successful black man.
Gerald Rose of the Atlanta-based New Order National Human Rights Organization says the backlash against Vick is similar to previous smear campaigns targeting famous black men from Kobe Bryant to Michael Jackson.
However, a spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says the issue isn't racial. Dan Shannon says the animal rights group would be protesting just as loudly if the accused was Peyton Manning or Brett Favre. Those two NFL quarterbacks are white.