FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live): Protesters lined the sidewalks of the Veterans Memorial Bridge between Fargo and Moorhead Wednesday night. And it appears the fight in the FM against the Dakota Access Pipeline is not over, the focus now shifting to possibly the West Acres Mall later this week.
“This Friday, lets meet at the West Acres Mall and shut it down” reads part of the Craigslist post titled “Paid protesters needed #nodapl”, urging those opposing the pipeline to gather. Whoever made the post is offering you a nice little chunk of change too. The person behind it says they’ve quit their job and cashed in their 401k, offering $1,000 cash if you quit your job and join them full time in protesting. But if you would rather keep your day job, showing up at the mall could net you a cool $50, the post offering it to any adult even if they don’t agree with the message.
"I think they have a right to protest but I don't think they have a right to shut down,” said Trish Young who works at a mall kiosk.
“You know that's definitely one way to do it. But I mean if you're just getting paid 50 bucks and you don't actually believe in it you're just there for the money, you know I think it kind of defeats the purpose I think,” offered Ryan Goin.
"I do believe after speaking with administration here that they will not be allowing protests,” Lt. Bill Ahlfeldt with Fargo Police.
The mall issued this statement in response to the post:
West Acres has the utmost respect for free speech and the right to assemble peacefully, rights provided and protected by the first amendment. However, West Acres is private property and throughout our history we have exercised our private property rights to not be a venue for protests, as they pose a disruption to our customers and tenants. We want everyone who visits West Acres to have an enjoyable and safe experience. A complete version of our Code of Conduct is available on our website.
Fargo Police say they are prepared to deal with any event.
“The minute that protest moves onto private property and that property owner does not want that protest occurring there are state laws that guard against that and we as a police department are prepared to enforce those laws,” said Lt. Ahlfeldt.
This isn’t the first time we’ve run into this idea of paid protesters, President-elect Donald Trump repeatedly alluding to the idea of professionals demonstrating in the streets. Remember, too, there are crowd-source websites that have raised millions of dollars for the Dakota Access protest camp.
Here’s the now removed Craigslist post in full:
Paid Protesters Needed #nodapl (Fargo)
I have cashed in my 401k and quit my job to fight for the water. I believe in Fargo we can make a huge difference. We need to start protesting in the bigger cities like Fargo and Bismarck the cities where we shut down a highway and people listen. So this Friday let’s meet at the West Acres Mall and shut it down. This is what I need people to do for this to be a success start meeting at the mall on Friday 11/18/16 at 4pm I will be coming back from the camp and meet everyone at 7pm. I will pay $1000 cash to anyone who proves they quit their job to protest full time with me I will also pay for travel and food as long as I can afford it for this people joining the long term fight. As for everyone else who shows the first night I will pay $50 cash for adults and $20 for each child you bring. If you a BLM or anti Trump you will also get paid to join my protest we need the body’s. Just tonight we shut down Veterans bridge. Get involved people save mother earth.