A video emerged on Thursday that showed the extent to which animal-rights activists will go to make their point. According to the Tampa Bay Times, family-man Bob Hope was fishing with his family at Crescent Lake Park north of St. Petersburg, when a group of activists approached him and his adult son. Hope and his son had just caught a tilapia, which was struggling on the ground, when the family group recording the scene approached. One of the two sportsmen was baiting a fish hook at the time.
A boy approached the two men and asked them: “Do you know fish feel pain?” When the two men did not respond, the boy went on to state: “When you hook them in the mouth, it really hurts them.”
One of the sportsmen then says, "OK." After asking them to consider the pain of the fish, the boy asked them to pack their fishing poles.
The boy's father Mike Leaming, then asked the men, “Are you really going to let this fish die like this? What if this was a dog and I hooked it in the mouth and threw it into the water?”
“We don’t eat dogs,” Hope said.
When Leaming said all animals are capable of feeling love and pain and that they should be left unharmed, the sportsmen told him, “We respect your opinion.”
With Leaming were his wife, Kayla, and two children. He went on to ask the two men if they would feel the same if the fish were a “human child.” Stating the obvious, one of the two fishermen answered, “This isn’t a human child.” Learning said, “They have the same ability and emotions of a human child.”
Hope said in the video that he was engaged in a lawful activity. Learning said that some laws are unjust, comparing laws on fishing to those that prohibited women from voting or permitting enslavement of black people. A woman who was standing nearby with a stroller and a small child said that God gave animals to mankind for their use.
When the fishermen appeared fatigued, they told Leaming that he was harassing them. Saying that he was on public property, Learning told them: “You’re harassing this fish!”
Learning and Hope had an exchange about the Bible, the Garden of Eden, and whether human beings should eat animals.
The confrontation grew tenser until Learning seized the fish and threw it back into the lake. When the two men threatened to call the police, Learning rejoined with: "Call the police! I just saved a fish’s life, how about that? How about that?” Learning's wife, Kayla, also intervened in the squabble.
The Tampa Times reported that Hope called the St. Petersburg police. However, by the time the officers arrived, the group had departed. Police said that they could not make an arrest anyway. The paper said that a second degree misdemeanor can only be enforced if witnessed by an officer. While there is video of the incident, rescuing the tilapia is not a crime, said the paper.
Hope told the newspaper that he was going to eat the fish he had caught. "I only shared it on social media because the police officers did nothing to protect my rights," Hope said. "If there were people fishing all over the lake, and these people showed up, that's a protest. We were fishing by ourselves when we were ambushed. That's not a protest, that's harassment."
An activist group called Direct Action Everywhere is reportedly in the Pinellas County area this week.
On Tuesday, chaos ensued at a Chick-fil-A restaurant when animal rights activists showed up. Video recorded the scene when customers, including young children, were shouting and screaming. A protester leapt over tables and a woman threw a camera on the floor while a Chick-fil-A employee tried to calm things down.