Sen. Utke responds to Minnesota logging company lawsuit against eco-terrorists who harassed staff and destroyed equipment

Scheff Logging & Trucking, Inc. filed a lawsuit against eco-terrorists who harassed their employees and vandalized several pieces of heavy equipment on a worksite near Cloquet last February as several other violent protests occurred during the same time period.

Eco-terrorist actions put employees, first responders, our environment, and even the eco-terrorists themselves at risk. This behavior is becoming more common, and clearly oversteps the bounds of safe expression encompassed in our First Amendment rights, while recklessly threatening Minnesota’s public safety.

These actions continuously illustrate the need to pass the Worker Safety and Energy Security Act, legislation I authored last session, which would increase penalties for the individuals who train and finance these acts along with the individuals who criminally trespass and damage both property and Minnesota’s critical infrastructure. This legislation will help clarify the boundary of free speech, curtail these dangerous actions, stop terrorism, and protect all parties involved from the loss of life or property.

In the original event, the criminals tore out wiring damaging dashboards, drive trains, and oil reservoirs, stole keys, cut hydraulic lines (causing oil to drain into the ground), and poured sand, glue, and water into Scheff’s equipment; overall creating more than $100,000 of malicious and intentional damages to the equipment of this small family logging company working under contract for St. Louis County.

The same gang also vandalized the equipment of Casper Construction in Carlton County. The police followed their footprints in the snow and found Scheff equipment keys in their pockets. Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidences. Many small businesses in Minnesota have experienced similar disruptions and vandalism, and it needs to stop. The victims are our families, our friends, and our neighbors – these activities are entirely unacceptable.