Animal rights activists have claimed responsibility for the Sunday arson fire that heavily damaged 14 tractors and several cattle trailers at Harris Farms in Fresno County, California, according to a clearinghouse for activists.
The Animal Liberation Front (ALF), an underground group that the FBI identifies as a domestic terrorist organization, claims to have set the fire that started just before 4 a.m. Sunday at the truck storage area at Harris Farms feedlot. In an e-mail to the Fresno Bee, Harris Farms CEO and Chairman John Harris said the company was "appalled by this senseless, but very alarming attack. I had suspected Animal Liberation Front may have been involved and now they are in fact claiming responsibility for it with multiple details."
The clearinghouse that distributed the statement claiming credit for the arson is the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, which says it has no direct dealings with underground groups or illegal activity.
According to the statement distributed about the Harris Farms arson, "containers of accelerant were placed beneath a row of 14 trucks with 4 digital timers used to light four of the containers and kerosene-soaked rope carrying the fire to the other 10. We were extremely pleased to see that all 14 trucks ‘were a total loss.""
Harris told the Fresno Bee the damage was "substantial," but did not reveal a dollar figure. However, Harris said the attack will not have an effect on the company.
"We are gratified by the support and concern we have received from the public and the outrage this attack has created," Harris wrote. "We must live in a society that is safe for all and no one can tolerate violence such as this. ALF and similar terrorist groups pose a real threat, and I am confident that the many law enforcement agencies working on this case will bring them to justice soon."
Read John Harris' statement here.
Harris Farms is one of the largest family-owned agribusinesses in the nation. It is California's largest cattle feeder, beef processor and beef marketer.
California Farm Bureau president Paul Wenger said, "The terrorists who attacked (Harris Farms) must be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
Wenger also said animal-welfare groups should become involved in helping to resolve the case.
"We encourage animal-welfare organizations to help authorities find those responsible. If they sit by silently while animal rightists attack law-abiding businesses, they are passively endorsing domestic terrorism," Wenger said.
"Farmers, ranchers and everyone involved in agriculture do their best to grow food safely and responsibly. They should not have to fear attacks on their property or on themselves for producing products that Americans want," Wenger said.
The Animal Liberation Front is an international, underground leaderless resistance that engages in illegal direct action in pursuit of animal liberation. The roots of ALF can be traced back to England in the 1960s, and ALF is now active in over 40 countries.
Some activists claim the movement is non-violent, but ALF's code says any act that furthers the cause of animal liberation, where all reasonable precautions are taken not to harm human or non-human life, may be claimed as an ALF action.
Animal Liberation Front's stated objectives are:
- To inflict economic damage on those who profit from the misery and exploitation of animals.
- To liberate animals from places of abuse, i.e. laboratories, factory farms, fur farms etc., and place them in good homes where they may live out their natural lives, free from suffering.
- To reveal the horror and atrocities committed against animals behind locked doors, by performing nonviolent direct actions and liberations
- To take all necessary precautions against harming any animal, human and non-human.
- Any group of people who are vegetarians or vegans and who carry out actions according to ALF guidelines have the right to regard themselves as part of the ALF.