- The Washington Times - Monday, January 13, 2003

GIRARD, Pa. (AP) Bob Ferrando wonders if he was targeted because he's the biggest Ford truck dealer in Erie County.
Maybe it was because of the TV commercial that showed off 700 vehicles.
Whatever the reason, the northwestern Pennsylvania auto dealer was the latest target of the Earth Liberation Front, a radical underground environmental group he had never heard of until this month.
Early on New Year's Day, someone sneaked onto his lot about 10 miles west of Erie and ignited jugs full of gasoline under several vehicles. The fire damaged or destroyed a couple of Ford trucks and two sport utility vehicles.
By the morning of Jan. 3, ELF had claimed responsibility, saying the attack was part of a campaign to save the environment by battling commercialism and industry.
Mr. Ferrando said the group had probably harmed the environment by burning the vehicles.
"I think the burning of rubber tires and all the hoses and gasoline and metal and rubber probably did more harm than the running of the trucks," he said.
ELF has taken credit for several past vandalism attacks in Pennsylvania and across the country.
On the ELF press office Web site, the group took credit for the March torching of a construction crane at a bridge site and an August fire that destroyed an unoccupied forest research station near Warren, east of Erie. It also took credit for a November fire at a mink farm outside Erie.
After the forest research station fire, ELF said, "where it is necessary, we will no longer hesitate to pick up the gun to implement justice."
On Thursday, ELF claimed members attacked construction vehicles in Northeast Philadelphia on Dec. 28, putting glue in locks, pouring sugar in gas tanks and breaking windows. The group also said it damaged a demonstration home by spray-painting its walls and breaking windows, saying members acted to protest the destruction of "natural land" that had been home to wildlife.
No one has been arrested in the vandalism attacks, which have caused no injuries but fall in line with ELF's stated goal of taking radical action; the Web site even includes instructions on arson.
The ELF press office said several auto dealerships have been targeted across the nation in recent years as part of a protest against gas-guzzling SUVs and "car culture."
ELF's response did not say why Mr. Ferrando's lot was targeted. The group says its members are anonymous and claim membership simply by carrying out actions. Then people post messages to the Web site, which says it doesn't represent ELF but only serves as a media conduit for the group.
Near Richmond, Va., more than 30 sport utility vehicles were vandalized over several months last year. ELF claimed responsibility. The group says it has caused $45 million in damage nationwide "to entities who profit from the destruction of life" in thousands of attacks since 1997.


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