While some people will come to Matt Knight Arena to cheer on the bulls or the bull riders at the Feb. 18, Professional Bull Riders event, Animal Compassion Eugene (ACE) is coming to host an outreach-based protest.
Brent Ratkovich started ACE in February 2022 after living in Eugene for about eight months. He and his family moved from Sacramento, California. Ratkovich was involved with animal rights activism and vegan advocacy there. He said he wanted to continue this in Eugene and join an existing group that supported these topics, but there was not a lot going on. He then decided to create his own group.
ACE will have around 10 members at the PBR protest, he says. They will hold signs and talk to people “about what they’re supporting in the arena and possibly educate them on how this is animal exploitation,” Ratkovich says. “We want to do that in a kind way, not a combative way.”
Ratkovich has protested rodeos and PBR events before, and ACE protested the Eugene Pro Rodeo last summer. He says that these events are hard to advocate at, and he doesn’t agree with the way animals are treated and exploited for entertainment.
“It’s about planting seeds,” Ratkovich says. “It’s about giving someone a possible idea that there might be something wrong with this and there might be a different way of thinking about it.” Even if they don’t get to talk to anyone, he says their signs will speak for themselves.
ACE’s goal is to “ask people to choose more compassionate eating and try to outreach to people about veganism and animal rights,” Ratkovich says. The group protested outside of Dave’s Hot Chicken when the restaurant chain first opened in Eugene. ACE had leaflets describing the abuse that the chickens face. Ratkovich explains that they didn’t want to put the restaurant out of business, they just wanted to strike up a conversation about other food options and compassion for the animals.
Ratkovich advocates his passion through ACE. “I feel that I’m speaking for animals and the rights for them to be treated with dignity and with respect,” Ratkovich says.
PBR Protest and Outreach takes place Feb. 18 at 5 pm outside of Matthew Knight Arena. Find out more about ACE on Facebook.