Vandals Put Tree-Love Above the Law

Some environmentalists in Georgia (search) regard a single tree as more important than a property owner’s rights — and the law.

Locals in Athens, Ga., have been filling prescriptions and getting ice cream at Hodgson's Pharmacy (search) for the past three generations. The store’s Norman Rockwell image was recently shattered when vandals — angry that the storeowners cut down a 50-year-old cedar tree to comply with city zoning ordinances — lobbed a brick through the store window and left behind graffiti that read, “Tree Killers.”

“It went across my store to about two feet from the counter back there where it actually hit the floor and dug into the rug and kicked into our panel back there and knocked it out,” said store owner Hal Hodgson. Tires and seats on construction equipment at the pharmacy’s adjoining property were also slashed.

So far, no one's claimed responsibility for the vandalism. That leads investigators to believe it was not the work of any organized group, but a few misguided and overzealous individuals.

“There are a lot of people who consider themselves environmental activists in this area — which is not a bad thing. But you also have to take into account that people have property rights,” said Sgt. Rick Hammond.

Hodgson agreed that this type of environmental activism crosses the line.

“Everybody is entitled to an opinion in the paper or radio or news media. But when you start vandalizing equipment and my store, it gets personal,” Hodgson said.

Click in the box near the top of the story to watch a report by Fox News' Jonathan Serrie.