Attacks on Food Retailers in USA Show Triple Digit Jump
Attacks on the global food chain from animal rights and environmental extremists jumped 42% – from 155 in 2007 to 220 in 2008 – according to Arlington, Virginia-based Animal Agriculture Alliance (Alliance). Worse yet, claimed attacks on food retailers in the USA from groups like the Animal Liberation Front exploded 377%.
The Alliance indicated that Bite Back magazine was its main source for compiling data on terrorist acts claimed by Animal Liberation Front (ALF), Earth Liberation Front (ELF), DBF, a branch of ALF found in Sweden and the Netherlands, and other animal rights terrorist groups. But independent media reports and state agriculture groups also provided critical information.
The information compiled by the Alliance showed that ALF, ELF, DBF and related groups claimed a total of 640 acts of sabotage, vandalism and arson in 2008, up from 467 in 2007, an increase of over 35%. The overall level of animal rights extremist attacks in the USA on businesses that use animals – including medical research, consumer product safety, pets, circuses, rodeos, fur shops, hunting stores, farmers, ranchers, food retailers – surged nearly 40%. An even more troubling development is the massive expansion of damages inflicted upon food retailers. Claimed attacks on food retailers in the USA, especially the brand names of McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC and Hardee’s, increased from 9 in 2007 to 34 in 2008, an increase of 377%.
Destruction or defacement of property – especially smashing windows, etching windows, and painting (or paint bombing) windows, buildings, vans and billboards – were the most frequently used techniques used by extremist groups in their attempts to intimidate food chain businesses to shut down. The groups also adopted a new unsavory technique this year, using sponges to block toilets and urinals to cause expensive flooding and extensive clean-up.
In terms of terrorist activities, global animal rights extremist groups combined to claim over 600 separate terrorist acts, including:
- firebombing autos and trucks;
- paint bombs;
- death threats;
- issuing bomb threats;
- product tampering hoaxes;
- vandalizing gravesites;
- acid etching windows;
- gluing locks;
- paint stripping cars;
- slashing tires;
- flooding facilities;
- cutting off utilities to restaurants;
- hacking web sites; and
- damaging equipment.
Extremists claimed responsibility for the “liberation” of thousands of animals during the year, and millions of dollars in damage. Mexico appears to be an emerging center for animal rights terrorism. In 2008, extremist groups in Mexico claimed more than double the amount of attacks than were claimed in the USA.
As disturbing as this news might be, the geographic array of attacks in the USA is equally disturbing. “We have seen a significant change in extremist activity directed against the food chain,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Executive Vice President of the Animal Agriculture Alliance. “The numbers of attacks against food retailers in hotbeds of extremism like California and New York were noticeably lower, while attacks in other areas not widely associated with animal rights extremism increased markedly. For instance, the greater Kansas City, KS area appears to be the new home of an ALF cell, with two attacks having been claimed in the second half of 2008, one in Lenexa and the other in Overland Park. An ALF cell in Georgia claimed five actions. One targeted a butcher shop, another hit a meat company and three more were aimed at quick serve restaurants. Further, ALF cells in North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Texas all claimed actions.”
“The message is loud and clear that the agenda of these groups is focused solely on advancing a vegan agenda through destruction and intimidation,” said Johnson Smith. “The fact that extremists are willing to massively increase their attacks on the food chain during a serious economic downturn should cause major alarm for all companies and organizations responsible for feeding people. The exponential escalation of attacks is shocking and disturbing. All companies in the food chain need to be vigilant, enhance their security efforts and be sure to report all incidents to their local police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).”
The Animal Agriculture Alliance, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, is a broad-based coalition of individual producers, producer organizations, suppliers, packer-processors, private industry and retailers. The Alliance’s mission is to communicate the important role of animal agriculture to our nation’s economy, productivity, vitality, security and that animal well-being is central to producing safe, high-quality, affordable food and other products essential to our daily lives.
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