Viewpoint: Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters Must Face Facts

Protests of the long overdue and nearly completed Dakota Access Pipeline are growing despite the mountains of evidence showing that the wrongs alleged by angry demonstrators simply never happened.

Obviously, the 1,172-mile pipeline, which will carry much-needed domestic crude oil from North Dakota oil fields to a terminal in Illinois, has stirred passionate reactions among a small minority of neighbors. What is remarkable is that so few have objected to this project that spans 50 counties in four states.

In fact, the pipeline is 77 percent complete at a cost of $3 billion.

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Frustration Mounting Over Destructive Dakota Access Pipeline Protests

An increasing number of North Dakota residents are speaking out against the destructive Dakota Access Pipeline protests that continue to wreak havoc on otherwise peaceful communities. Flip to the opinion section of any Bismarck-area newspaper and it becomes abundantly clear that readers are tired of the chaos and tired of being ignored by the media.

“Fairy tales are alive and well in North Dakota,” wrote Jeremy Finch in a letter to the editor posted by the Grand Forks Herald. “Despite the facts, some media outlets spun the narrative into the realm of make believe,” he added.

Finch also pointed out that even members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, including Robert Fool Bear Sr., district chairman of Cannon Ball, are speaking out against the protest. “[Fool Bear] not only asks that “protesters go home” but criticizes the tribal chairman for refusing to demand this departure,” Finch wrote.

In a separate letter published by the Bismarck Tribune, reader Ray Daly scolded religious leaders for ignoring the reality on the ground and instead smearing local enforcement. “If you do not wish to practice what Scripture says, then that is your choice,” he wrote. “But, please do the citizens of North Dakota one big favor. Stop slapping our law enforcement agencies across the face. They do not deserve it.”

All of this comes as protesters admitted to the Williston Herald that grass fires were intentionally set as in an effort to obstruct authorities. The Herald also noted the little regard out-of-state activists have shown for farmers and ranchers who rely on their land to make a living.

“Many protesters have rallied around care of the environment, and it’s frustrating to us in the agriculture community when we look at how many examples of their activities have been anything but respectful of the environment,” said Julia Ellingson, vice president of the North Dakota Stockman’s Association.


Some Protesters Disrespect Land and Landowners, Farmers and Ranchers Say

ST. ANTHONY — On a clear, blue-sky day in October, seven or eight protesters showed up in the middle of Jared Ernst’s alfalfa field, unloading their horses without so much as a “by your leave.” Ernst went over to ask them what they were doing in his alfalfa field and was told they were here for the Dakota Access protest. Ernst told them that was fine, but he didn’t want them trampling his hay field.

“This is treaty ground,” Ernst says the older gentleman replied, “and you don’t have a right to be here.”

Two younger men ambled up, meanwhile, swinging lariats as they came.

Ernst turned slightly to make sure everyone could see the revolver at his hip. At that point the older gentleman waved the two younger ones away, and the seven or eight protesters left Ernst’s field. Ernst said plates on the vehicles identified them as from a reservation in South Dakota.

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Law Enforcement At North Dakota’s Pipeline Protests Deserve Public Support, Not Vicious Attacks

In Morton County, North Dakota, law enforcement is putting their lives on the line to provide public safety, enforce the rule of law, and protect protesters who exercise their First Amendment rights in a peaceful and prayerful way.

They have been called to action in response to large-scale unrest over a proposed pipeline that is to be built on what protesters believe is sacred Native American land. The Dakota Access Pipeline, which is already more than two-thirds completed, is a $3.7 billion project that would create between 8,000 to 12,000 construction jobs and would transport oil from North Dakota to southern Illinois. In August, protests by Native American groups halted construction, but only temporarily. Today, work continues on all private land up to the Missouri River despite the Obama administration requesting the company in charge to voluntarily hold construction.

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Protesting the Dakota Pipeline is Not Cut and Dried

How did the out-of-state activists protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline arrive at the North Dakota site? How were the sleeping bags they will use when the high plains winter arrives manufactured and shipped to the stores at which they were purchased? What are the plastics made of in the phones they have been using at Standing Rock, N.D.?

Many things make the global economy possible, but a major one, unfortunately, continues to be oil. The world is addicted to crude because it is energy dense and easy to transport. Practically nothing modern Americans do — including protesting an oil pipeline — would be possible without it. This inescapable fact means that demand for the stuff is huge. And if there is a market for a product, suppliers will attempt to meet that demand, in all sorts of ways. In and around North Dakota, that has meant sucking it from underground shale formations and transporting it out of the area by truck and train. Pipeline transport would make it safer.

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What the Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters Aren’t Telling You

With the help of celebrities and professional activists, protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota have attracted international attention. The shouting and violence have drawn sympathy from people who are hearing only one side of the story — the one told by activists. Were the full story to be heard, much, if not all, of that sympathy would vanish.

The activists tell an emotionally-charged tale of greed, racism, and misbehavior by corporate and government officials. But the real story of the Dakota Access Pipeline was revealed in court documents in September, and it is nothing like the activists’ tale. In fact, it is the complete opposite.

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Grand Forks Herald Editorial: Dakota Access Protesters Want Villain to Rally Against

A recent editorial published by the Grand Forks Herald exposes the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s tactics used to spread falsities about law enforcement and strengthen unity for their cause.

More recently, it’s clear that some protesters still want a villain to rally against. Some of their actions even seem designed to bring back the spectre of King George III and his Redcoats. Setting barricades on fire, charging police while on horseback and resisting arrest all look like efforts to make police use force. Then the idea is to put video that force on social media, where it’s likely to make police look bad.

Law enforcement has demonstrated a highly professional, restrained response to the increasingly violent anti-pipeline protesters. Authorities have been able to effectively handle a delicate situation without overreacting and playing into the hands of law breakers.

Thanks to this restraint, which comes at real risk to the officers’ safety, North Dakota officials credibly can refute protesters’ wilder claims. Arrestees were kept in “dog kennels”? No, they were held for hours—not days—in indoor chain-link-fence enclosures, simply because the local jails are full. Suspects had numbers inked on their arms, “like in concentration camps”? No; a mark from a pen is not a tattoo, and wanting to link people with their possessions—stored separately in numbered plastic bags—is a world away from genocide.

The Grand Forks Herald hit the nail on the head with this thoughtful analysis. Law enforcement have deserve both our respect and gratitude maintain order in a hostile environment.


Sheriff’s Say Obama Putting Lives in Danger

The National Sheriffs’ Association sharply criticized President Obama’s comments on the Dakota Access Pipeline, saying that his decision to let “things play out” puts lives at risk. In a statement, NSA Executive Director and CEO Jonathan Thompson said the following:

Law enforcement is in the middle of a powder keg in Morton County, N.D., and last night President Obama said: “We’re going to let it play out for several more weeks…”

Law enforcement officers are protecting private property and the right to protest in Morton County. There have been 415 arrests in connection with the riots. Just 8 percent of are from North Dakota, while the other 92 percent are from 43 other states stretching from Vermont to Florida to California. This includes militant agitators with long histories of violence, including domestic assault, child abuse and burglary.

Protesters have allegedly fired a weapon and thrown Molotov Cocktails at law enforcement and President Obama is “going to let it play out for several more weeks.”

Mr. President, this is not a game. As we saw in Iowa this morning, where two police officers were ambushed and murdered, law enforcement is real life and, all too often, real death.

Sheriffs, Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven, Rep. Kevin Cramer, Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley have repeatedly called for assistance from the federal government.

Letting it play out, as the President has recommended, puts precious lives – protesters, workers, tribal members, ranchers, farmers and law enforcement – in danger. Unless the President can provide us with assistance and support, the President should be held partially responsible for the fear, terror, and damage caused by violent, militant out-of-state agitators.

Law enforcement officers are on the frontlines of this dangerous standoff and know firsthand that protests that protests have not been “peaceful and prayerful.” These brave men and women have put their lives on the line in the interest of upholding the rule of law and protecting law-abiding citizens. The President should be thanking these civil servants and hanging them out to dry.


A Tale of Two Protests

In late October, a jury in Oregon acquitted Ammon Bundy and six codefendants for illegally occupying a building in the federal Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in a remote eastern part of the state. The protest, the subject of national news coverage in January, was in support of local ranchers given egregious five-year mandatory federal sentences for setting a controlled burn on federal land to protect their own property from wildfires. As soon as the acquittal was announced, there were howls of protest. The Bundy verdict was said to be a case of jury nullification. CNN, Vox, and other publications suggested in commentaries that the verdict was an instance of white privilege.

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Dakota Access Pipeline is No Cultural or Environmental Threat

The Dakota Access Pipeline, a 1,172-mile oil pipeline that will safely transport crude from the Bakken fields of North Dakota to Illinois for domestic U.S. consumption, was for years a project no one could fairly call “controversial.” It proceeded through the regulatory process without incident. The company building it worked with landowners and local officials to address any concerns before construction began. The project was halfway finished when, suddenly this summer, a small group emerged to protest the entire pipeline.

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