RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Steve Stanaway and his Chihuahua, Dinky, were in the majority outside the federal courthouse, on hand to voice their disgust with Michael Vick.
Curiosity seekers from as far as Massachusetts lined up early and stood hip to hip in front of the downtown courthouse Thursday, some with signs condemning the Atlanta Falcons quarterback, others sporting Vick clothing and rallying behind the former Virginia Tech star.
Vick supporters were far outnumbered, evident by the boos that greeted Vick as he emerged from a sport utility vehicle at 3 p.m. to appear on dogfighting charges.
``I've taken a side. I'm with the dogs,'' Stanaway said.
He said many of his York County neighbors support Vick, a Newport News native. But he pointed to the lengthy, detailed indictment.
``They've got 18 pages of evidence out there,'' he said. ``All of it can't be wrong.''
Hours before Vick arrived, Shawn Dodson sat in his Vick jersey, 110 miles from his Lynchburg home.
``You don't see them with signs with the co-defendants' names on them. It's because he's a superstar,'' he said, motioning to protesters. ``It's not right.''
Authorities accuse the player and three others of sponsoring ``Bad Newz Kennels,'' a brutal dogfighting ring headquartered on Surry County property Vick owned. Authorities said the men killed underperforming dogs, electrocuting, hanging, shooting or drowning the animals.
The four men pleaded not guilty and were released without bond until a Nov. 26 trial.
The indictment's gory details have incensed animal rights activists, who showed up in force Thursday. They toted signs with huge pictures of pit bulls mangled in fights, and a few of them wore dog costumes.
John Goodwin, a spokesman for the Humane Society of the United States, said the unfortunate case offered a chance to highlight the ugly sport of dogfighting.
``There are a quarter million dogs that are fought to the death in these pits every year,'' he said. ``Now we have a great opportunity to do something.''
One hundred people were allowed in U.S. District Court for Vick's arraignment, and a courtroom holding 200 was set aside for the overflow.
Some began lining up before sunrise, switching off with friends to take bathroom breaks as they waited through the day.
Susan Schwabe came at 8 a.m. The former Vick fan carried a sign reading, ``Prosecute All Dogfighters.''
``I'm here for the dogs,'' she said. ``They don't have a voice.''
Beside her, Vick supporter Tyrell Allen dragged on a cigarette. On his feet were Vick's signature Nike shoes.
Allen figured Vick might have bet on dogs a few times. But he thought it wasn't anything special, and figured Vick's case was only getting attention because he's a star.
``Dogs fight every day,'' Allen said.
By late afternoon, dozens of onlookers had swollen to hundreds, corralled across the street from the courthouse behind police barricades.
Around 4 p.m., a mixture of shouts of ``We love you'' and jeers rose as Vick emerged from the courthouse and quickly hopped into a truck.
Afterward, one protester exchanged heated words with a Vick supporter, who suggested race might be at the root of Vick's case.
But Schwabe focused on the bigger picture.
``He has tons of talent,'' she said. ``I just hate to see this happen.''

Recent NFL Discussions

SUPER BOWL PLAY on Mon, Feb 2017 by MichaelF12
2017 NFL Draft Props on Fri, Feb 2017 by Blade
Handicapping Week 1 on Fri, Feb 2017 by Blade
Blade what time do you get up on Thu, Feb 2017 by Blade
VIR- V TECH GAME on Sun, Feb 2017 by Timmy1961
Advertisement

Top NFL Public Bets

NFL Top Stories

Thumbnail Krik Cousins Next Team Prop Odds Which team will Kirk Cousins be playing for in Week 1 of the 2017 NFL regular season?
Thumbnail Tony Romo Next Team Prop Odds Which team will Tony Romo play for when the 2017 NFL regular season begins? Oddsmakers have weighed in.
Thumbnail Taylor could be fit in Cleveland Could current Bills Tyrod Taylor be a fit for the quarterback-needy Browns next season?
Thumbnail Palmer, Fitz both returning for Cards The Arizona Cardinals will have their starting quarterback back for 2017, as Carson Palmer confirmed he will return to play next season.
Thumbnail AFC Championship Odds In no surprise, the Patriots are favored to win the 2018 AFC Conference Championship over the Steelers and the rest of the field.

NFL Team Pages