RICHMOND Animal rights activists, the media and supporters of NFL quarterback Michael Vick gathered outside the federal courthouse in Richmond this morning hours before his arraignment set for this afternoon.
Police, planning for hundreds of people to show up, restricted traffic on some streets around the courthouse.
Roughly 40 people lined the steps of the courthouse at 9 a.m. for a seat, an attempt to avoid standing in overflow this afternoon.
Some members of Norfolk-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals dressed in dog costumes and carried signs, including one with the image of a battered pit bull and the words “Dogfighting Victim.”
A trio of fans from Boston wearing Vick’s jersey and Atlanta Falcons hats made the nine-hour trip south to see the court proceedings.
“It was time someone should step up and support him,” Nick Fontecchio, one of the three, said.
Also, the Associated Press is reporting this morning that the sheriff in Phoenix said his office is investigating any involvement Vick may have in dog fighting operations in Arizona.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio told a Phoenix radio station that the Atlanta Falcons quarterback is a “person of interest regarding pit bull fighting,” but he is not “talking about a case.”
Arpaio said Vick’s name has been “very familiar” to his office since “a while back.”
Vick is due in federal court this afternoon in Richmond. The NFL star and Newport News native is to appear at a bond hearing and enter a plea on federal dogfighting charges. Prosecutors allege he and three others ran a dogfighting operation on Vick’s property in Surry County, Virginia.