According to reports in the media, besides playing guitar in a folk band and being an employed sound technician, Stephen Petersen is also a known animal rights activist.
Some people seem to be confused about animal rights activism. Activism is not the same as extremism.
I’ve come across another blogger that has informed me that arson is one of the top crime committed by animal rights extremists. So, I did some research. What data I found reinforces my assertion that suspected arsonist Stephen Petersen does not fit the profile of an animal rights extremist.
According to the FBI:
During the past several years, however, special interest extremism, as characterized by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), and related extremists, has emerged as a serious domestic terrorist threat. Special interest terrorism differs from traditional right-wing and left-wing terrorism in that extremist special interest groups seek to resolve specific issues, rather than effect widespread political change.
…by far the most destructive practice of the ALF/ELF to date is arson. The ALF/ELF extremists consistently use improvised incendiary devices equipped with crude but effective timing mechanisms. These incendiary devices are often constructed based upon instructions found on the ALF/ELF websites. The ALF/ELF criminal incidents often involve pre-activity surveillance and well-planned operations. Activists are believed to engage in significant intelligence gathering against potential targets, including the review of industry/trade publications and other open source information, photographic/video surveillance of potential targets, obtaining proprietary or confidential information about intended victim companies through theft or from sympathetic insiders, and posting details about potential targets on the Internet for other extremists to use as they see fit.
Let’s look at some of the methods ALF/ELF members use to further their cause (according to the FBI):
“The ALF/ELF extremists consistently use improvised incendiary devices equipped with crude but effective timing mechanisms.”
“ALF/ELF criminal incidents often involve pre-activity surveillance and well-planned operations.”
“Activists are believed to engage in…posting details about potential targets on the Internet for other extremists to use as they see fit.”
Was Stephen Petersen a member of ALF/ELF? I haven’t found anything that connects him. Simply being involved with animal rights activism doesn’t automatically make one a member of an extremist group, and therefore, a terrorist. People who follow this logic are likely to believe someone is a terrorist for carrying a pocket constitution, or for having a Ron Paul bumper sticker on their car. (MIACreport) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missouri_Information_Analysis_Center
Critical thinking time. Does any of the above fit with the alleged arsonist Stephen Petersen? Were any improvised incendiary devices equipped with crude but effective timing mechanisms used? Does the incident sound like it was executed using well planned operations? Did the suspect post details about potential targets on the internet?
Here’s some more data on animal rights extremists-
According to “An Overview of Bombing and Arson Attacks by Environmental and Animal Rights Extremists in the United States, 1995-2010 U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security:
“…perpetrators were difficult to identify for several reasons: e.g., very few
were actively engaged in legal protests and movement-related activities prior to committing their crimes”
“…members of these groups consistently “announce” their responsibility for crimes via communiqués and press releases”
“…members of ALF did not specifically target private
“Specifically, meat/food processing plants (29.6%), universities (21.3%), fur/leather companies (16.7%), and fast food restaurants (10.2%) were high priority targets for ALF…”
” In general, the offenders who were involved in the bombing and arson incidents studied here were not particularly active in such activities”( movement-related)
“6.1% participated in movement-related protests. Even fewer
offenders leafleted (2.0%), and very few had a web presence (0.7%)”
“…both categories of offenders were not strongly engaged in publically promoting the aims of their
movements using legal avenues…”
Now I have to ask again, does any of this sound like Stephen Petersen? We know he was active in protests and he did have a web presence. Did he announce his intentions online? Did he target individuals involved in animal cruelty? Alameda police have already stated that they believe no one was specifically targeted, and the fires appear to be set at random. No individual was targeted.
Does standing up for animal rights automatically make one an extremist?
And then there’s Stephen’s connection to the Facebook group Vegan Anarchist/Total Liberation Network. Doesn’t sound very peaceful to you? Then you probably didn’t read the group’s description, “We assert the need for more expansive visions and politics on all sides of the human/animal/Earth liberation equation, and we call for new forms of dialogue, learning, and strategic alliances. Human, animal, and Earth liberation are interrelated projects that must be fought for as one, as we recognize that veganism is central to peace, ecology, sustainability, nonviolence, and the healing of the major crises afflicting this plan”
Anarchy can be peaceful and non-violent.
As a matter of fact, anarchists are known for opposing wars, unlike so called conservatives and many modern liberals who support them. Supporting the Republican or Democratic parties is supporting groups that are more violent than anarchists. With their wars they have killed millions. Before responding let me point out that I know there are some Republicans and Democrats that are pacifist. I’m not like some bloggers who see everything in either black or white. Believing in pacifism and anarchy is not an oxymoron.
Upon closer inspection, it does not appear that Stephen Petersen is a member of, or affiliated with animal rights extremist groups such as ALF. The fires that he is accused of starting are not consistent with attacks perpetrated by ALF extremists. Furthermore, my research supports the fact that Stephen Petersen does not match the profile of an ALF extremist, or an arsonist in general.
And a note to other bloggers out there- If you want readers to take your writing seriously, stay away from character insults (i.e. calling vegans “carrot heads”) and focus more on the facts concerning the truth.