Animal activist Steve Hindi has quite literally been bloodied in his 20-year crusade to end pigeon shooting in Pennsylvania.
He has been cursed at, spit on, punched and whipped with the metal end of a leash while protesting outside organized pigeon shoots. He's been side-swiped by a car and had a gun pulled on him.
Now, Hindi says, pigeon shooters are endangering innocent people with their escalating tactics to intimidate protesters.
At a pigeon shoot at Wing Pointe gun club in Hamburg, Berks County held over the weekend the small group of protestors was stunned to find dozens of tire spikes scattered over the area just off a public road where they park their cars.
Some of the spikes ended up embedded in their vehicle tires and one protester stepped on a spike, but she averted impaling herself because she had on hard-soled shoes.
"This is infinitely more dangerous than what they have done before," said Stuart Chaifetz, an investigator with Hindi's group, SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) who was filming the shoot on Friday when the spikes were found. "There could have been a blowout and there could have been a major car crash on the highway."
Hindi, who says the protesters have followed the law and simply sought to document the events in a peaceful manner, says he believes the pigeon shooters have become emboldened by the fact that Berks County district attorney John Adams is turning a blind eye to their harassment and attacks.
Only one person - the individual who hit Hindi with the leash - connected to the pigeon shooters' attacks on protestors was charged and he pleaded guilty. And in that case, police charged Hindi too, although he maintained he was acting in self defense and the charge was eventually thrown out.
State Police Trooper Michael Koslosky, who responded to the SHark call, said the spikes were put there intentionally, but he has made no arrests and has no suspects in the case. He said he spoke to several individuals at Wing Ponte but "they denied having any knowledge of it. "
Kosloski said authorities are continuing to look into the incident. "If we find out who did it we will prosecute," he said.
Now Hindi's group wants State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan to step in and address the increasingly dangerous acts.
In a letter sent to Noonan yesterday, Hindi wrote:
If the spikes in the tires had not been found, they could have caused a blow-out. Does someone have to die before the Pennsylvania State Police take action, because this time someone could have. This is as serious as it gets, yet once again we fear nothing will happen because of the special protection Wing Pointe seems to have.
No reasonable person could look at what happened with those tire spikes and have doubt that we were being targeted and that there was intent to cause us harm. Yet no one was arrested, and we doubt any one will ever be held accountable for this reckless and extremely violent act.
A spokeswoman for the state police said the letter has been delivered to Noonan although he is out of town until Aug. 14.
Chaifetz said he hopes someone is arrested for planting the "little landmines" in a public right of way.
"This is not just about pigeons anymore, this is about human life."