Dear Rev. Jesse Jackson, Mr. Mark Ruffalo and Mr. Leonardo DiCaprio,
Thank you for your quick visit to Morton County, North Dakota. During your visit, please know there is more to our state than the out-of-state rioters you’re meeting with, more than the celebrities you are talking to, and more than the sensationalist media outlets you’re interviewing with.
I love my state and my family has a ranch near the pipeline route.
My family and I, and my neighbors, have become targets of intimidation tactics and threats because we live here, not because we support the pipeline. The roving groups of demonstrators have not allowed us to get our crops, hay and cattle moved in a timely manner. The costs – financial, physical, emotional and environmental – that we are incurring are substantial. We do not understand why we, as innocent bystanders, have been targeted by the protest movement.
The clear majority of my Native American friends and neighbors are law-abiding. But these out-of-state rioters and agitators have terrorized our community, stolen and slaughtered our livestock, vandalized our property, frightened our children, and blocked roads that we use to move our cattle and grain to market and that ambulances use to transport people to the hospital.
Some rioters carry fake rifles, looking like real weapons from afar, scaring us and trying to provoke law enforcement to harm them. They have stacked hay bales, trees and rocks to block our community’s main arteries.
While their efforts may be aimed at the pipeline, the effects are more wide-reaching. They’re interrupting our daily lives with their antics and it needs to stop. You can afford to miss a day or a week of work; we can’t.
More than 90 percent of the rioters arrested live outside of North Dakota. Many have long arrest records for domestic violence, drug dealing, child abuse, domestic violence and burglary. These are not the people we want in our state, in our communities. These are not the people who will remain after the rioters are long gone.
This is not Beverly Hills. If protesters showed up outside your home, you would be quick to call the police to help, yet you’ve spoken out against the same response from our local law enforcement. They’re doing the best they can to help mitigate the issues and do not need any more outside agitators adding to their struggle.
So, before returning to the movie set, the red carpets and the next protest, please know that we’re here as well. So are our Native American friends, co-workers and families; people who are tied to us through our shared history. We aren’t leaving, but you eventually will. Don’t leave our community more fractured than it already is. Please consider the impact the protest is having on innocent people before you show support for any side of this conflict. Don’t ignore our plight.