OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — An animal Action group says YouTube has removed a video of Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt speaking about a cockfighter rally and fundraiser for violating the company’s community guidelines by promoting cruelty to animals.

In a video message to cockfighters, Governor Stitt apologizes for not attending their rally in McAlester on November 12, but says he will “cheer them on from the sidelines” and that he looks forward to working to advance their legislative priorities in the state legislature in 2024.

YouTube flagged Animal Wellness Action’s video of the Governor’s message over the weekend, and issued a final ruling Monday morning that the video would not be reinstated and that no further review would be considered.

“Content showing the malicious infliction of physical or psychological harm to animals isn’t allowed on YouTube. We review educational, documentary, artistic, and scientific content on a case-by-case basis. Limited exceptions are made when sufficient context is included.”

Direct message from YouTube to Animal Wellness Action

“While we don’t support the take-down of Gov. Stitt’s video valentine to cockfighters, the YouTube action is yet one more indicator that his statement promotes the criminal enterprise of cockfighting and the bloodletting that results from staged animal combat,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy. “Governor Stitt can get himself on the right side of this issue by saying he opposes cockfighting and any bill to weaken the state’s voter-approved law.”

Link to Gov. Stitt video on Vimeo.

Cockfighting was made illegal in Oklahoma with State Question 687 in 2002.

During the 2023 legislative session, HB 2530 and SB 1006 – two bills to reduce cockfighting charges from a felony to a misdemeanor – failed to pass in either chamber, but the bills can be re-examined in the 2024 session.

“Oklahomans like yourselves remain dedicated to the spirit of competition and comradery that runs deep in our communities,” said Gov. Stitt in his message. “The Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission has come to play a big role in preserving this heritage, and your work helps to make sure our gamefowl traditions are instilled in our culture for decades to come.”

The Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission (OGC) is a political action group whose primary objective is to decriminalize cockfighting, according to Animal Wellness Action. Prior to Jan. 1, 2023, the Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission donated $41,250 to 34 sitting House members and nine Senators, with the single largest recipient of contributions being Sen. Lonnie Paxton, R-21, ($2,500) and Governor Stitt ($2,000). A number of lawmakers returned the money to the Commission after learning more about the purposes of the group.

In August, OGC district leader Chance Campo and six other men were charged with the felony offense of servicing and facilitating a cockfight and also a misdemeanor offense of being a spectator at a cockfight in Carter County.