A Florida family was accosted by a group of animal welfare activists while fishing at a park in St. Petersburg on July 11 (video below).
Bob Hope was fishing with his parents at Crescent Lake Park when the incident began, reports The Huffington Post.
Two videos of the incident, including one filmed by Hope’s mother and one filmed by the activists, were shared on social media.
Contrary to his famously comedic name, Hope was not joking when he described the scene on Facebook:
We were at Crescent Lake Park enjoying ourselves and my dad actually caught a nice 4 lb tilapia of which we had hoped to later have a meal out of. He asked my brother to run and fetch the bucket to put this fish in when we were suddenly ambushed and harrased by these nut jobs!!! They literally pushed my mothers leg and stole the fish and threw it into the water.
The identities of the so-called "nut jobs" were revealed by the Tampa Bay Times as Kayla and Mike Leaming, along with their children, aged 9 and 5. The Leamings are members of Direct Action Everywhere, an international animal liberation group founded in 2013 near San Francisco.
As explained on the organization's website, "Animal liberation is a simple idea: That every sentient being -- black or white, gay or straight, dog or cat, human or rat -- deserves the same safety, happiness, and freedom that we ask for ourselves."
In the video, Hope and some family members are standing in front of a sidewalk rail overlooking the lake. At their feet is a large Tilapia, flopping on the pavement.
The Leaming's young son approaches Hope and asks, "Did you know that fish feel pain?"
Seconds later, his father confronts the Hope family regarding their catch, asking what if it was a dog, or a human child on the concrete. After several minutes of stridently accusing Hope's family of animal abuse, he grabbed the fish and threw it back into the water, accompanied by sarcastic shouts of, "Call the police! I just saved a fish's life, how about that? How about that?"
Hope took Leaming's advice and duly called the St. Petersburg police, which issued a as quoted by WFLA:
When the officer arrived, the protesters were already getting in their cars. The primary concern for the officer was to restore the peace and the officer didn’t witness any disorderly conduct or criminal activity. The officer documented the call as well as the names, addresses, and auto tag numbers of the principal protesters. Whether one agrees with the message or not, any group has a right to free speech in a public park. The officer acted appropriately under the circumstances.
After receiving a stern lecture and losing their Tilapia, Hope said his family left and went fishing elsewhere.