FBI ROOFTOPFor the longest time I had planned on going into the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and actively worked towards it for about 12 years. I would occasionally check in with the local Special Agent in Tampa, where I lived at the time, and make sure I was on the right track and doing everything I needed to be doing in order to become a Special Agent. Somewhere along the way I became vegan and everything I stood for began to change. When I finally went through the hiring process and accepted my conditional offer letter, I really started thinking deeply about my ethical stance and how the FBI could jeopardize that. I had always viewed the FBI as one of the last truly just government organizations, but when I started digging deeper, I realized I didn’t feel that way anymore. Even in Civil Rights times, the FBI was not exactly on the right side of justice. The more I dug into the FBI archives, the more I saw how poorly they supported animal rights and are actually damaging the fight for freedom. Below is the letter I wrote to the FBI to rescind my acceptance of their conditional offer to become a Special Agent.

“Dear Special Agent [Redacted for Privacy],

I am very grateful for the opportunity presented to me by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to serve my country as a Special Agent. For over twelve years now, I have taken the necessary steps in my life to position myself for success in this role, as I have wanted to bring more justice to the world ever since my sister was murdered. The FBI seemed to be one of the few organizations left in this world where justice was truly at the center of the mission and I was excited at the idea of serving such a prestigious organization.

The mission of the FBI is to protect and defend the United States against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats, to uphold and enforce the criminal laws of the United States, and to provide leadership and criminal justice services to federal, state, municipal, and international agencies and partners; and to perform these responsibilities in a manner that is responsive to the needs of the public and is faithful to the Constitution of the United States.

Based on my own personal beliefs and recent revelations, I have decided that I will no longer pursue a career with the FBI. I am withdrawing my acceptance of the conditional appointment as Special Agent of the FBI. While the type of work I would be performing for the FBI is exactly what I have wanted to do ever since I met with FBI Human Resources way back in college, I have realized that my purpose is to fight for the rights of all lives on this planet, including the rights of animals. Recently I came across the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) of 2006, which actually supports terrorism towards other species. While I firmly believe in being a law-abiding citizen, it seems our laws are neither built to protect the people nor any other living beings, but are instead built to protect the corporations that have powerful lobby interests. Nobody benefits from animal agriculture except the corporations that continuously seek to exploit the lives of other living beings. Animal agriculture is destroying the health of the planet, the health of people, and kills billions of sentient beings every year, who have already been scientifically proven to have the same emotional capacities as humans. There is no justice in this and I have no desire to work for an organization that enforces laws such as the AETA and Ag-Gag laws, which seek to keep the public ignorant about the brutality towards animals for their unnecessary food choices. The sheer fact that abuse of companion animals has been reclassified to a Class A felony alongside homicide and arson, but does not include the use of animals for food, lawful hunting, fishing or trapping is beyond perplexing and shows a serious problem with speciesism. Even the idea that the FBI is looking at animal cruelty towards companion animals for clues on potential human threats, yet ignoring these other people who torture, rape, and kill animals for food and fun is beyond the realm of moral and ethical reasoning, let alone common sense. As the world begins to wake up, there will be far less people willing to take a job that enforces laws which seek to exploit life for the sake of money.

You and everyone I have met within the Bureau have been very gracious to me and I will be forever grateful for that. I will continue to uphold the law in my personal life, while continuing to fight for justice and seeking new paths to change the barbaric laws that plague this great nation.

I wish you the best in the remainder of your career and your personal life.

With Sincere Gratitude,

Stephen Rykwalder”

It isn’t that I didn’t want to work for the FBI anymore, but more that I couldn’t ignore what my ethical standpoint was telling me. It is easy to have ethics when they are not being challenged, but maintaining our ethics when there is much to gain by abandoning them is when it really counts. Since sending this letter to the FBI, I would be lying if I said I haven’t ever looked back and wondered how different and exciting my life would be if I had moved forward with them. What I do know for certain though is that I made the correct decision in choosing to continue fighting for the rights of animals outside of this organization.