In the past week Brookville has experienced some bright moments and some dark.
The bright moments came on Friday with Light Up Brookville drawing people to downtown for the lighting of the community Christmas tree. The many volunteers who give of their time to make the annual event memorable for both young and old are awe-inspiring. From the hanging of the lights and the placing of the tree to the train rides, the parade filled with floats and wonderful activities for children to enjoy – topped off with the arrival of Santa – gives us a warm feeling inside and brings back childhood memories to enjoy once more.
Brookville did itself up proud for the region to see a beautiful kickoff to the Christmas season.
Even a strong wind that blew the star from atop the tree just a day before the big event could not dim the proceedings. A quick call to volunteers and the star was soon back atop the tree in time for Friday’s lighting.
Brookville went into the weekend with wonderful memories of another Light Up Brookville event. It did not, however, begin the week in the same frame of mind.
Word spread Sunday and into Monday of the unfathomable actions of two young men. A video of their actions has drawn a mixture of emotions – anger, disgust – even bewilderment as to why. Why take such actions against a defenseless animal; why shoot a video of it as if it was something to be proud of? Other questions pop up as well: What were you thinking? How could you do such a thing?
As everyone has learned in the past decade or more, what gets posted online will never go away. The video in this case has been removed but others who saw it have copied and reposted it – many with strongly worded comments. There has also been a push on change.org to gather 500,000 signatures to a petition pushing for charges to be pressed against the two teenagers. As of 8:16 p.m. Monday there were 325,088 signatures on the petition. Change.org is an activist site giving people a platform to push for change. It noted that President Donald Trump signed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act into law on Nov. 25.
An article in the South Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper described the law as prohibiting “intentional acts of crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling or otherwise subjecting animals to serious bodily harm. The crime is now a federal felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison.” While a recent Washington Post online article said “Violations could result in a fine and up to seven years’ imprisonment.”
It isn’t clear if this newly signed law only pertains to small animals and domestic animals or if large wildlife, such as deer, are also included. Nor is it clear if the video originally posted by these young men meets the criteria outlined in the new law.
So what will be the outcome of these actions displayed in an online video?
Right now we don’t know.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is looking into the matter and seeking any information anyone can provide on the situation.
The Brookville Area School District on Monday issued a notice that it is taking steps to ensure the safety and security of students and staff this week as school resumed on Tuesday morning. Counselors and clergy were stationed at all of the schools on Tuesday and were available as needed. The school also says it will be placing an emphasis on the humane treatment of animals in its curriculum at various grade levels.
Both the counselors/clergy presence within the school on Tuesday and the future curriculum additions are positive steps going forward.
Whether any charges will be filed or whether the new law will pertain to this situation are both unknowns. We won’t have any answers until an investigation is completed. If you have information on the incident contact the Game Commission.
However, we urge everyone to let the investigation proceed and to not issue threats against the families of these two individuals. Such threats do not help the situation and may only lead to those issuing the threats finding themselves in trouble. While those from outside our region and even outside the state or country like to latch onto any incident and pull it into their cause, texting and tweeting out innuendoes and inferring coverups when they don’t have any facts, we do not have to follow their lead.
Instead, let’s allow the Game Commission to gather all the facts and make a judgment on what should or shouldn’t be done and let’s follow the school district’s lead in finding a way to keep our youth safe and help emphasize the right way to treat animals – whether domestic or wildlife. Let’s emphasize to young hunters what is “good sportsmanship” and what isn’t, and that hunters respect wildlife when hunting.
Hopefully, the next time Brookville gains such wide-spread name recognition it will be for someone or something awe inspiring that pulls people together rather than actions such as these that caused justifiable outrage.