Law Enforcement Spouses Threatened With Rape, Murder During #NoDAPL Protests

Dakota Access Pipeline opponents sing prayer songs Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, as they vacate the Oceti Sakowin camp near Cannon Ball, N.D., ahead of the evacuation deadline. Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune

“There reached a point when the Dakota Access protest became less about debating the merits of pipeline routes and more about mixing it up with cops,” writes Valerie Richardson for the Washington Times. “That’s when the danger spiked for officers and their families. While protesters were fueling worldwide outrage and fundraising over allegations of police brutality, an aggressive cohort of agitators was terrorizing the families of law-enforcement officers with threats of death, rape and arson.”

The situation in North Dakota has cooled. Oil should be flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline next week even as #NoDAPL lawyers attempt desperate last-minute legal maneuverings to block it. Meanwhile the protest camps are empty, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the State of North Dakota have established a solid working relationship, and yesterday state officials announced that guided traffic would resume on Highway 1806 after a months-long roadblock of that artery down into the Standing Rock community.

Here in North Dakota I think most of us in tribal and non-tribal communities alike want to move on. “We’ve got to get past it,” Three Affiliated Tribes Chairman Mark Fox told me recently.

So why pick at scabs? Why re-live the threats and the violence from the political extremists who visited their rage on our state?

Because the protesters are moving on – to places like Florida, Iowa, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Texas – and we need to understand the sort of tactics they use from the legal maneuvering to the media propaganda to the attempts at intimidating law enforcement and their families.

From Richardson’s article:

“There were threats made to us, mostly that they were going to come burn down our houses or rape us while our husbands were gone,” said Allison Engelstad, who’s married to Jon Engelstad, a sheriff’s deputy in Morton County, North Dakota. […]

A live video feed taken from a January protest on the Backwater Bridge includes the voice of an activist shouting, “We’re going to gang-rape,” “Watch your family,” and “We’re going to kill your daughters, your mothers, your fathers, your grandparents, even you!”

The whole thing is worth reading.

As is this passage, which reminds us that the actions of the political extremists do not necessarily represent everyone at Standing Rock: “One thing I can say about law enforcement: They don’t hold grudges against Standing Rock,” said Ms. Arndt. “It drives us crazy to see people want to boycott the reservation and the casinos, because that’s not good for the families and the children. Not everybody wanted this: They might not have wanted the pipeline, but they didn’t want the protest.”

I have some personal experience with threats from political activists. At one point an activist on Facebook told my wife and I that she hoped our children would get cancer. I had countless messages via social media and email telling me that people were “coming” for me, etc., etc.

It was a harrowing few weeks at the height of the protests. A level of ugliness I’ve never seen before.

I’m glad it’s over, but we need to remember what happened. This needs the light of public scrutiny so that we can understand the true nature of, if not the entirety of the anti-oil movement, at least a sizable faction of it.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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