Arson and Earth First! and ALF — Oh My!

It’s been a busy few weeks for activists who try to make their feelings known through violence, theft, and vandalism. Here’s a sampling:

In the wake of 12 indictments handed down last week against members of the violent animal rights group SHAC, Boston television station WHDH aired a segment Monday night about animal-rights extremism. Speaking about SHAC members who stalk, terrify, and sometimes physically assault people connected to medical research on animals, Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly stated the obvious. “Those are crimes,” he said. “That is criminal behavior. Are they acts of terrorism? Yes they are.”

This morning’s Providence Journal carries an opinion piece by Center for Consumer Freedom research director David Martosko, who points out the connections between SHAC thugs and “mainstream” animal activists from groups like PETA. “We ask nicely for years and get nothing,” PETA president Ingrid Newkirk complained earlier this year. “Someone makes a threat, and it works.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that eco-radicals have claimed “credit” (read: “guilt”) for a fire that gutted a laboratory belonging to the U.S. Forest Service. Susan Stout, the lab’s head of research, told the Inquirer: “We are having to learn, and our families are having to learn, to deal with the fact that somebody has chosen to identify us as targets for personal violence. We have had to think differently about how to conduct our lives.” Pittsburgh TV station WTAE described the arson as causing $700,000 in damage.

The Earth Liberation Front is claiming responsibility for a rash of vandalism attacks in Virginia. Violent activists have slashed SUV tires, etched their calling card (“ELF”) into truck windshields and restaurant windows, and even destroyed two vehicles with hatchets. A New York Times story this morning points out, correctly, that ELF is an offshoot of the “Earth First!” movement, which still operates above ground and, seemingly, beyond the reach of law enforcement.

In Great Britain, animal rights activists are being blamed for an arson attack on a beef processing plant. The fire swept through two trucks, causing over $47,000 in damage before firefighters could get it under control. While it’s clear that animal rights activists are involved, there’s no word yet on whether this crime is linked to a series of similar arsons, vandalisms and break-ins that have caused over $8 million in damage since June 2001.

A McDonald’s restaurant under construction was set ablaze in Eastern France last week. According to the Ananova news service, the fire “blew out windows, collapsed the building’s roof and shattered much of its interior.” It was set to open in December.

Elsewhere in France, the Associated Press reports that animal rights activists broke into a mink farm on Sunday, “liberating” over 1,000 animals. The farm’s owner estimated his loss at over $30,000.

In Oregon, the FBI is searching for an Earth Liberation Front (ELF) eco-terrorist who goes by the pseudonym “Tre Arrow.” He has been the subject of a federal arson warrant since July. Like many of his compatriots who hide behind ski masks and the cover of night, Tre Arrow is turning out to be quite a coward. Three Portland State University students, described in court documents as his disciples, have been in custody for months, yet Arrow is nowhere to be found.

The Portland Oregonian says that Arrow’s partners in crime were turned in after one of them told his girlfriend about the crime. The ELF arsonists apparently set “eight homemade incendiaries made of gallon milk jugs” underneath log trucks and a front-end loader. The whistle-blowing girlfriend is the daughter of a deputy state fire marshal. Bragging to her about committing arson was probably not the smartest thing to do.

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