Ritualistic Animal Sacrifices Upset Neighbors

Killing goats and geese in the name of God

By Jessica Greene
|  Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010  |  Updated 9:15 AM PDT
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Imagine walking through your neighborhood and hearing the screams and cries of animals being slaughtered. That's just what some people in a quiet Bay Area community say they have been subjected to on their block.

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Imagine walking through your neighborhood and hearing the screams and cries of animals being slaughtered. That's just what some people in a quiet Bay Area community say they have been subjected to on their block.

Becky Marquez and her family perform ritualistic animal killings of goats and geese in their Tracy home as part of their religion, Santeria, which has roots in African and Carribbean cultures.

"I am not ashamed and not embarrassed of what I do because I love what I do," Marquez told KCRA-TV. She says her religion and the ceremony is misunderstood. Marquez said they only sacrifice animals on special occasions.

"It’s done in a humane way, the animals to use are highly respected because we do offer it to our Orisha (God)," said Marquez, "we treat them with respect all the way up until the moment that we do offer it to them."

But not everyone is so accepting.

"Kids walking by hearing animals being slaughtered, it's just -- it's very unsettling," said  Vicki Pease, who lives across the street from the Marquez family.

Pease is not the only one displeased about the practice.

The Tracy police have been called the home several times during a ceremony; however no citations have been or will be issued. The police said federal law gives them the right to practice their religion.

"The supreme court back in 1993, held that state cannot restrict the ritual slaying for religious purposes of livestock," said Tracy Police Department spokesman Sgt. Tony Sheneman.

Some neighbors said they aren't concerned about the sacrifices and have not heard the noises.

Code enforcement officials have issued a warning to the Marquez family about keeping farm animals within the city limits, but no tickets have been given.

KCRA contributed to this report.

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