When protest crosses the line to crime
This country was founded on the willingness of its forefathers to protest, demonstrate, and even resort to civil disobedience to exert their beliefs. It’s no accident the very first amendment guarantees freedom of religion, speech, press and assembly.
In Carson City, teachers were out with their signs this week, the supporters of wild horses are making regular visits to the Capitol steps, and both anti- and pro-war demonstrators showed up in Reno last week.
But there is a clear line to be drawn between these protests and the acts of ecoterrorists like Michael Scarpitti, who was arrested recently in British Columbia, and as a leader of the Earth Liberation Front, may have had a hand in sabotage in at least a couple of Nevada incidents.
One of those incidents was the fire-bombing of a wild-horse corral in 2001, and the other involved tampering with the gondola at Heavenly ski resort.
Perhaps Scarpitti, who goes by the name Tre Arrow, is too young at age 30 to remember bloody protests of the 1960s over the war in Vietnam. Maybe he’s ignorant of incidents such as bombings in Northern Nevada that nearly killed people. Maybe he thinks his cause justifies his actions.
To be sure, Scarpitti isn’t charged with crimes that involved injury to people – only property. But his alleged crimes do involve arson, a most dangerous act.
Here is part of a statement attributed to Craig Rosebraugh, former spokesman for the Earth Liberation Front, who called Scarpitti a “hero”:
“It is inexcusable that Tre Arrow is arrested and labeled a terrorist, while the murderous politicians in Washington slaughter people every day here in the United States and internationally. This incident today is even further proof that a revolution is necessary in the United States to fight the FBI and the federal government. Until this diseased political system is brought to its knees, there will not be justice.”
Scarpitti developed a following for his passionate protests against the logging industry. If he crossed the line, however, he will be a hero only to people who don’t understand terrorism is a crime.