On 3rd June 2023, dozens of animal rights activists were arrested in connection to the disruption of the Epsom Derby, a famous horserace that takes place at Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey, England, usually held on the first Saturday of June each year. Surrey Police have confirmed they had arrested 31 people, including 19 before the race started and 12 within the grounds. One protestor managed to jump onto the track while a race was already on, and he was tackled to the ground by the police. Moments later a woman tried to jump the fence in front of the Grandstand. 

In a statement, Surrey Police said: “Eleven people were arrested at addresses in Mitcham and Byfleet in the early hours, following warrants based on intelligence received ahead of the Epsom Derby Festival… A further eight people were arrested after their vehicle was stopped on Canons Lane in Burgh Heath at around 10.20am this morning. All were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit public nuisance and remain in police custody…A total of 12 people have been arrested within the Epsom Downs racecourse since the event began this morning, also in connection with planned criminal activity. One man was arrested after he ran onto the racetrack after a race had started. He was quickly removed by event security and police officers, meaning the race was not disrupted.”

The activists belong to the animal rights group Animal Rising, which recently has been disrupting similar races, like the Grand National in England, the Scottish Grand National in Ayr, and the Doncaster racecourse. This group, which used to be called Animal Rebellion and was inspired by the climate group Extinction Rebellion, is also known to organise disruptions in restaurants.  

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.