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Amid fight hoopla, protesters call out Mayweather over domestic abuse

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L.E. Baskow

A group of Floyd Mayweather Jr. protesters march their way around the MGM Grand as the fight weigh-ins take place within the arena on Friday, May 1, 2015.

Mayweather vs. Pacquiao Weigh-In and Protest

Floyd Mayweather looks to Manny Pacquiao as he salutes the crowd following their fight weigh in at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Friday, May 1, 2015. Launch slideshow »

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Under a giant decal on the MGM Grand advertising the mega-fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, several dozen protesters on Friday chanted at passing vehicles on Tropicana Avenue.

The subject of their fury: Mayweather, the man poised to make an estimated $200 million this weekend, who also has a history of domestic violence.

“Hey, hey, ho, ho. Floyd’s gotta go!” the protesters yelled. “No excuse. Stop the abuse.”

As hundreds of vehicles streamed past the rally, a few honked in support, but most zipped right on by — symbolic of what protesters say is society’s reaction to domestic abuse: indifference. And when it comes to celebrities or superstar athletes, punishment doesn’t seem very severe, both in the actual justice system and the court of public opinion, protester Jose Trujillo said.

“You have a person who has lots of money, can afford the best attorneys,” he said. “People look at him as a superstar.”

So the question posed by protesters today was this: Why glorify — and bolster the bank account of — a man who has abused women?

Mayweather, 38, spent nearly two months in jail in 2012, after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of battery constituting domestic violence. The charge stemmed from a September 2010 incident with his ex-girlfriend, Josie Harris, inside their Las Vegas home. Harris accused Mayweather of punching her and yanking her hair in front of their children.

Other incidents go back more than a decade, although not all ended with a guilty plea or conviction. For instance, in 2005, a jury found Mayweather not guilty of beating Harris outside a nightclub two years earlier; however, a Las Vegas justice of the peace found him guilty of two counts of battery for punching two women at a Luxor nightclub in August 2003.

Given his history, Melissa Clary, vice president of Southern Nevada’s chapter of the National Organization for Women, called Mayweather “the poster child for domestic violence” in Las Vegas.

“This is an epic payout. It’s an epic fight,” Clary said. “But let’s take away some of that spotlight and shed some light on domestic violence as a problem.”

Metro Police field about 60,000 calls a year from people who say they are being assailed by someone in their home, and the Clark County District Attorney’s Office typically receives 10 to 20 new domestic violence-related cases each day. While both men and women can be victims of domestic violence, authorities say more women are abused.

In fact, Nevada consistently ranks in the top 10 states for the rate of women killed by men, according to the Violence Policy Center.

Trujillo, who volunteered on a crisis response team in Los Angeles, said he has seen too many women endure serious injuries or death related to domestic violence. It’s what led him to make the four-hour drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to participate in today’s rally, which was coordinated by grassroots organization Hold Athletes Accountable..

As the public lately has called for an end to police brutality, Trujillo hopes the same message will be applied to anyone who unlawfully wields power, control and physical force over another person.

“Why aren’t we doing the same with athletes?” Trujillo said. “We can be a janitor; we can be a pilot. It doesn’t matter who you are. You have to be held accountable for the crimes you commit.”

Silence enables abusers, said Harris Harrigan, a grassroots organizer for Hold Athletes Accountable. Rather than spend money on the fight, protesters urged people to make charitable contributions to local domestic violence shelters.

“There’s so many services in need,” Clary said.

As the protest was winding down on Tropicana Avenue, pre-fight hoopla was heating up steps away at the main entrance to the MGM Grand. Parked right outside: a Mayweather Promotions bus, adorned with images of the undefeated boxer.

Visitors, unfazed by Mayweather’s checkered past, flocked to the area to snap photos.

“I really don’t think anything negative of him,” said Michael Renteria, 29, of Denver. He believes Mayweather has atoned for past mistakes. “Anyone can change.”

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