Ben Schwartz

I received this email Wednesday afternoon, from what I thought was out of the blue.

Ben Schwartz

Shark is an activist group that was recently stopped by eff (sic)Franklin, the sheriff of Clay County, Nebraska.  This was an illegal stop and they faced harassment and lies from this individual.  When SHARK reached out to you for help showing that they were activists and not terrorists YOU (BEN SCHWARTZ) decided to not cover the story or even communicate with SHARK.

Obviously you have lost your moral integrity and are now a part of the establishment propaganda.  You had a chance to just stand with SHARK that the stop was illegal but you wouldn't even do that

Steve Cillian

Man! That guy nailed me! I lost my moral integrity AND I’m now part of the establishment propaganda? Ouch.

The problem was I had no earthly idea what this guy was on about with all this talk of SHARKs and sheriffs and terrorists. Then I received a second email.

Dear Mr. Schwartz,

Please investigate the drone incident that happened at the US Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) and the subsequent illegal abuse of authority by local sheriff Jeff Franklin against SHARK personnel.  The video posted on YouTube by SHARK clearly shows corruption by local law enforcement and the subsequent corruption by you and other local media.

Please do your job and show respect for the people of Nebraska!!

Sincerely,

Mr. Marques

This second email told me a couple of things: it gave me a little more insight into what these silly people were talking about, and it let me know that this was going to officially be a thing that I was going to have to deal with.

Still… I didn’t really want to know anything about the story itself, because I don’t care. But I did want to know why exactly this was now my problem. As it turns out, two months ago we picked up a World-Herald News Service story about this incident and put it on the regional news section of Lexch.com. Actually, to be accurate, the story wasn’t about this incident. It was about a letter Gov. Ricketts wrote to the Sect. of Agriculture which said meeting with animal rights groups like the United States Humane Society is a waste of time. The Clay County story was thrown in at the end.

Anyways, picking up that story is how I imagine I came to be on SHARK’s radar. Or sonar. Get it? Sonar? Because SHARK? Actually I think it’s dolphins that have sonar so nevermind.

I didn’t pick the story out and I didn’t even realize we ran it, but I am the editor and I am responsible for what we publish, so that’s on me.

Looking through my email inbox I found that yes, SHARK did indeed send me an email. I ignored it just as I ignore most of the hooting and hollering that shows up in my inbox from out-of-the-area interests. Incidentally, SHARK stands for SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness. You can’t make this stuff up.

Since I didn’t respond to their email, SHARK went ahead and posted my email address in a Youtube video, which is why I received the emails. Like this one from Janet Enoch titled “What happened to Fair and Balanced Reporting?”

While reading the articles about Sheriff Franklin and his claims about the USMARC observers on November 6, 2015, I was appalled to find out that the reporting by your publication was disgustingly biased. This leads me to wonder what other "reporting" by your publication was also biased?

When will there be a correction article published with the facts and not the rantings of an unstable and unworthy "Sheriff?"

I await your reply.

Sincerely,

Janet Enoch

You know Janet I can’t help but feel that you are being a little unfair here. I mean, no one in our office actually reported anything on this story. We just had the remarkably poor luck to fill a spot on our website with s story that landed us squarely in the sights of these people. I even got an email from a guy who claimed to be from the United Kingdom.

This next one though is my favorite. It’s more of a press release than a letter. I’m only including the first paragraph because, and I can’t stress this enough, I do not care about this story.

CLAY COUNTY,NEBRASKA – An international animal protection watchdog group is accusing prominent Nebraska newspapers – including the Clay County News, Lexington Clipper-Herald, Omaha World-Herald and Hastings Tribune – of unfair and biased reporting of a November incident near the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC), located in Clay County, NE.

Did ya catch that? They called us a prominent Nebraska newspaper! HaHAAA! YES! Cue the Jefferson’s theme song because we are movin’ on up, to a de-luxe apartment in the sky! We finally got a piece of the pie!

Now, the press release went on to call for my resignation and blah blah blah it doesn’t matter.

Getting down to business, here is the portion of the World-Herald story we ran in November that SHARK has its undies in a twist over:

Clay County Sheriff Jeff Franklin said he responded to a report Friday of a drone flying over the center property, which covers thousands of acres on a former Naval ammunition depot. After stopping to talk to the drone operator, he said he found himself looking at three cameras, operated by members of an Illinois group called Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, or SHARK.

Over the weekend, the sheriff said his office also received reports of a civilian helicopter flying over the center as well as privately owned livestock yards in the area. They were unable to determine who was flying the helicopter. Additionally, a commercial feedlot operator reported to authorities that internal gates in a cattle yard were opened, which caused the mixing of animals that had to be resorted and returned to their pens.

No arrests were made and no tickets were written, but Franklin said area livestock producers were on edge that the situation could escalate.

“You have the right to protest peacefully,” the sheriff said. “But when you go to other means and you start damaging, burning, intimidating or threatening, you’ve crossed a line.”

That’s the portion that SHARK president Steve Hindi complained about in his email to me, the one I ignored. In his email he denies any illegal activity, including speeding. Marvelous.

So let the record forever show that SHARK disagrees with the statements made by the Clay County sheriff. They have videos out there on the internet, if you would like to view them.

I have not watched them, because I don’t watch anything on Youtube besides funny pet videos. And I don’t care.

Now that this has been addressed, I’m going to go back to not knowing or thinking about this ever.

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(1) comment

Strawberry Roan

Thank you, Mr. Schwartz, for respecting the people of Nebraska with your humorous story and not giving SHARK the "respect" they think they are due! Loved your story!!

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