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Port: Dakota Access protesters need turn toward honesty

MINOT

After having stymied the Keystone XL and Sandpiper pipeline projects the environmentalist movement has set their sights on the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Thousands of protesters have now gathered on the Standing Rock reservation to protest the pipeline which crosses the Missouri River near there.

“Near” being the operative term. The pipeline does not cross reservation land.

The protests are being led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has also filed a federal lawsuit hoping to block the pipeline.

We’re supposed to believe that what is driving the concern of the tribe is worry over the pipeline leaking into the river which also serves as the tribe’s water supply.

The facts do not support this.

Allow me to note an important distinction in the motives for these anti-pipeline protests. Though the organizers and spokespeople for the protesters insist that they’re concerned about the safety of the lines, a close examination of what the protesters are actually saying indicates that it’s really an anti-oil movement.

They want to leave the oil in the ground. In fact, “leave it in the ground” has become something of a slogan for these agitators.

That’s an important distinction to make. These protesters want to come off as reasonable people raising common sense objections. In truth they’re extremists who think they can block oil production with a war of attrition against oil transport infrastructure.

But that’s just one facet of the dishonesty which shrouds these protesters.

Another is that they insist on describing themselves as peaceful.

“Over the last days, I have spent a great deal of time, meeting and speaking with participants in the demonstration, tribal government and spiritual leaders, state and local law enforcement officials and others,” Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault said in a statement released to the media this last week. “In all of these meetings, my message has been consistent — we need to work together in peace.”

That stands at odds with the dozens of arrests made by law enforcement officers for infractions like trespassing and disorderly conduct. In fact, Archambault himself was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly shoving law enforcement officers on the protest line.

If Archambault’s goal is peace, can we say that he has pursued that goal through his own actions?

“Pipeline construction has been halted in the area of the protest as law enforcement officers have encountered weapons, threats of pipe bombs and assaults on private security,” Forum News Service reporter Amy Dalrymple wrote earlier this week.

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier told the Bismarck Tribune that “his officers have been threatened.”

“This is really dangerous down here,” Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney, whose department has been assisting Kirchmeier’s during the protests, told Forum of Fargo-Moorhead reporter Robin Huebner.

If Archambault is sincere in his calls for peaceful protest — and it’s not clear from his own actions that he is — that message doesn’t seem to be reaching the protesters themselves.

By the way, another part of Archambault’s statement to the press rang hollow. “I strongly believe in the right of the people to be heard regarding the Dakota Access pipeline,” he said. “The pipeline presents a threat to our lands, our sacred sites and our waters, and the people who will be affected must be heard.”

Once again, actions don’t seem to match words. In speaking out about the protests over the Dakota Access pipeline, state regulators said that the Standing Rock tribe didn’t attend any of their public hearings reviewing the project.

“These groups didn’t come to our hearings,” Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk told the Bismarck Tribune.

The tribe has every right to be heard, but they have nobody but themselves to blame if they don’t show up to be heard.

And being heard is a much different thing than threats and violence and criminal acts like trespassing.

Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, a North Dakota

political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator.

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