FUR COMMISSION USA PRESS RELEASE, MARCH 14, 2001
“Sabotage Bill” Moves in Washington State
In response to increasing complaints over a wide variety of criminal actions against Washington State’s resource providers, State Representative Kirk Pearson(1) of Snohomish and King counties has introduced House Bill 1938 to bring such terrorist patterns under the felony category of “criminal sabotage”, with lengthy jail time and increased penalties.(2)
Representatives from forestry, farming, research, veterinary medicine and other industries, including Washington fur farmer Harvey Beck, testified at a hearing on Feb. 23.
The “Sabotage Bill”, as it is being called, passed late February out of the Committee on Criminal Justice and Corrections and into the Rules Committee. From there it will go to the House Floor for debate, then to the State Senate.(3)
“I don’t want anyone living in fear from a campaign of intimidation, obstructionist and terrorist activities used by groups or individuals with an agenda,” said Pearson.(4)
The Sabotage Bill would increase civil penalties to treble damages for anyone who “goes onto the land of another” and “intentionally and unreasonably” removes, damages or destroys property (including livestock), or causes “waste or injury to the land,” or “injures personal property or improvements to real estate on the land.” Additionally, the convicted party would be liable for reimbursing the injured party for “reasonable costs, including but not limited to investigative costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees and other litigation-related costs.”
The bill states, “Timber and mining companies, fur farms, recreational, residential, commercial, and industrial development, university research facilities, and animal and biotechnology research laboratories have become targets in a campaign of intimidation, obstruction, and terrorism aimed at the closing of these facilities or industries. These actions are not only illegal but impose extreme suffering and loss on individuals, families, businesses, and communities and pose a serious threat to human life.”
Washington State farmers who want to help the Sabotage Bill pass should contact Linda Johnson at Washington State Farm Bureau (800) 331-3276 (FARM), or [email protected].
The animal rights email list, [email protected], quickly circulated an alert opposing HB1938, claiming that “it is economic blackmail for the State to support certain enterprises with strengthened laws while ignoring other enterprises far more likely to be victims of crime, such as convenience stores.”
The author of the alert signs himself as “Bob Chorush, Animal Rights Prankster” and calls the bill “a knee-jerk reaction to media reports of economic sabotage elsewhere in the country.”
He also claims Washington State “has not had any outbreak of eco, animal or other terrorism.” But a recent series on ecoterrorism in The Oregonian listed damages from ecoterrorism in Washington totalling more than $4.5 million – and that was just from incidents costing more than $50,000.(5) 1998 was particularly expensive when two US Department of Agriculture wildlife stations were torched on the same morning in Olympia. The Earth Liberation Front and ALF claimed joint guilt for those arsons, which were billed to taxpayers at a cost of $1.9 million.
In his own knee-jerk reaction, the Animal Rights Prankster erroneously claims, “Graffiti at one of the ‘protected’ establishments could result in the same punishment as child molestation.”
“This bill will do nothing to stop sabotage or terrorism,” he opines, “since it has been shown that people who do these acts do so out of deeply held personal and political beliefs and are undeterred and unconcerned about the penalties if caught.”
If this is true, then if ecoterrorists do the crime, they won’t mind serving the time.
Commented Pearson, “It is our obligation as elected officials to send a clear message that we will not allow this in our state. It’s my hope that people who are thinking about doing this get the message, and if they proceed and get caught, they’ll pay the price.”(4)
(1) Info on Rep. Pearson is at www.leg.wa.gov/house/members/d39_2.htm
(2) Text of HB1938 is at www.leg.wa.gov/pub/billinfo/2001-02/house/1925-1949/1938_02092001.txt
(3) Track the bill’s progress at www.leg.wa.gov/wsladm/billinfo/housebillinfo.cfm
(4) Press release, Rep. Pearson’s office, Feb. 14, 2001.