Lt. Tom Iverson of ND Highway Patrol discusses recent DAPL protest events

Published: Nov. 4, 2016 at 7:14 PM CDT
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Lt. Tom Iverson, ND Highway Patrol Public Information Officer, joined us to talk about recent events in the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

I asked Lt Iverson about a video that has been flying around social media. It alleges that Erin Schrode was shot by a rubber bullet. You can view the video below:

WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO. Speechless. I was shot by militarized police WHILE interviewing a peaceful man at Standing Rock live on camera. I woke up this morning with the thought that I may have that very footage – and broke down in reliving the 40-second horror before my own eyes. Warning: it's very very difficult to watch and sent me into quivers and tears, even without the compounding historic trauma that Native Americans face. I do not wish to divert focus away from the bravery of the Water Protectors, from the power of nonviolent direct action, from the people fighting for their lives and for our futures – but I want you to witness the indiscriminate use of excessive force firsthand. Many have said that militarized police firing a rubber bullet at a female reporter was a fabrication, provoked by violence, or otherwise merited, including a Morton County, North Dakota press release. That is a lie; we have proof and eyewitnesses (cc Josh Fox, Matt McGorry, Jordan Chariton, Josue Rivas, Evan Simon, Josh Fox, Wes Mekasi Horinek, Kendrick Sampson, Doug Pineda, Doug Good Feather, Olowaan Plain, Tara Zhaabowekwe Houska, Ethan Buckner, Alexa Richardson, Zach Allia, Sean D Carasso and countless more). I was standing innocently onshore, not making any aggressive gestures, never exchanging a single word with the police who fired at my lower back from their boat. Peaceful souls were seeking to cross the river to hold a prayer circle on Army Corps public land, but halted by over one hundred hostile military police armed with and deploying tear gas, pepper spray, batons, and rubber bullets, as well as assault weapons and the threat of jail, only one week after 141 individuals were brutally arrested. I was shot at pointblank range, dozens were maced and pepper sprayed in the face, hundreds faced freezing waters. There were no arrests or deaths and I will be okay physically, but the safety and wellbeing of many peoples and lands remain in danger, for present and future generations. Thank you for your prayers, for your action in calling upon our President, government and Department of Justice to halt this atrocity immediately, for showing up and donating to support this fight for human rights, for the environment, for peace. Please continue to pray for the strength and protection of all peoples, for the physical pain, for the emotional trauma, for the desecrated land. #StandWithStandingRock #NoDAPL

Posted by Erin Schrode on Thursday, November 3, 2016

Lt Iverson said the optics of the video look bad, and he is not aware of any officer that fired a non-lethal round the day of this protest. He adds that from just the video there is not a lot of action they can take, and he asks Erin to come forward to meet with Morton County authorities.

Erin recently saw my interview with Lt Iverson and posted this on facebook:

The police now say I was not shot. A grenade launcher fired a rubber bullet at me, according to multiple eyewitnesses,...

Posted by Erin Schrode on Sunday, November 6, 2016

I am hoping to have Erin on Point of View on Thursday to hear her side of the story.


(Please note - this transcript was copied from an electronic captioning service. We apologize for any errors, spelling, grammatical, or otherwise.)


Lt. Tom Iverson: “It's not that you are either with the protesters or with the police. We're not on opposite sides. We're an independent group that is out there to protect everybody.”

Chris Berg: North Dakota Highway Patrol Lieutenant Tom Iverson earlier today at a press conference updating people on the Dakota Access Pipeline protest. He's going to join us in a few moments from our Bismarck studio. Want to get to this, we are four days away from Election Day. As I’m sure you've seen, the polls continue to tighten.

Good evening, welcome to Point of View, I’m Chris Berg. Thank you for joining us here on this Friday night Point of View. The latest stats the law enforcement authorities have made, 416 arrests since august 10th that are related to these illegal pipeline protest activities. Very important to note. Only 8. 4% of these arrests are people from North Dakota. And yet, guess what? You and I, the taxpayers of North Dakota, yes, we get to pick up this $10 million tab. That's just up to this point. It could be well. So as I’m sure you can imagine, law enforcement officers are exhausted physically and mentally. Here's a neat idea. Wayne decided to set up a Morton County's hero's fund, a GoFundMe page to support law enforcement and ranchers affected. His goal is to raise $200,000. Kudos to him.

Joining us tonight from our Bismarck studio is someone that has been experiencing an incredible level of stress is state patrolman Tom Iverson.

I want to jump in. You're the one on the line here toe to toe with these protesters experiencing the stress. I'm sure you heard what Barack Obama said earlier this week. I want to play a clip of what he said and give you a chance to comment on it.


President Barack Obama: “Right now the army corps is examining whether there are ways to recruit this pipeline. So we're going to let it play out for several more weeks.”

CB: As you know even better than I do, we're on day 87 or so, lieutenant iverson. When you hear our president say we're going to let this play out a few more weeks, what's your reaction to that?

Lt. Tom Iverson: First of all, Chris, thank you for having me on. I'm not a political person, but that's very concerning. What do we want to play out? And what are we waiting for? You know, are we waiting for somebody to get hurt, or one of our law enforcement to be killed? That’s something that's very concerning. Last week, on Thursday, our law enforcement officers were shot at. So we cannot sit and let this play out. That's something that we need to stress. And we need to come to a peaceful resolution.

CB: Speaking of that, you have a great point. So many people, I’m going to say our state leadership, even congressional delegation are saying the feds need to step in. If you had a magic wand, sir, knowing you're on the front lines, what would you like to see the feds do?

TI: Well, you know what, a lot of that is very technical and way above my pay grade. However, we do need support on the federal side, not only for resources, but maybe to allow and to provide more officers to come in for assistance. There's a large number of protesters down there. Now, we've said it all along. Many of them, majority of them, are very peaceful, very prayer full, and we are there to protect them. And it's becoming very obvious these past couple weeks, there are those prayer full and peaceful and those that are agitators. They have an anarchist view and would like to create an anarchy. Even means the peaceful and prior prayer full ones, they are starting to push those out. We need more officers and clarity on whether or not this pipeline is going to get approval. If it's going to be able to go under the river or not. We should be able to come up with that decision rather soon. And we need that decision. So that's kind of the magic wand that I would like to wave out if I had my way.

CB: I think it's not only you, sir, that would like to see that get done. I want to move on to another topic, give you a chance to comment. There's a lot of comments about police tactics. Chairman Archambault has called into investigation on police tactics. Saying we've got our eyes on law enforcement. What I want to get at is there's a video going around on social media, the video alleges a woman was standing there peacefully filming a water protector and allegedly she was shot with a rubber bullet. I'm going to play the tape for you, sir, give you a chance to comment on it and ask you what are the practices in place that may have somebody get shot with a rubber bullet? Let's roll this tape, please.


We have every right. Whoa!

Are you okay? Are you all right? Here, okay.


CB: So it doesn't look good, looks like she's standing there and it sounds like something whizzes in there, boom, she gets hit. She alleges it's a rubber bullet. You say?

TI: I agree, they are terrible optics. Law enforcement is aware of this video out there. Many of us have viewed it. It is concerning to see. However, we have not received any reports, this person has not come forward and provided their side of the story. As we all know, you take what you see on social media, on Facebook, with a grain of salt. It is unbelievable, the false lies that are out there on social media. Going back to this video, I agree, this is concerning, somebody is hit --

CB: Can I interrupt? If we can clear this up. I'm assuming you know the number of rounds you each have. Was she shot with a rubber bullet?

TI: We are not aware of her being shot.

CB: Okay. When you see that video, what comes to mind? Secondly, what are the practices? Again, everyone would commend you for the incredible amount of restraint you've had for spitting at you, sheriff said or maybe you, had feces thrown at you. What is the practices in place that would have you -- there's pictures of people being maced. Walk us through that.

TI: Law enforcement has a number of assets they are able to utilize. For one, they're called less than lethal ammunition. It's not necessarily rubber bullets. They're actually sponge rounds that are deployed from a gun, from a less than lethal gun. Now, with that exact scenario there, it is something that we'll have to look into and we would encourage that person to come forward and meet with the Morton county authorities. Right now, just judging from a video that we see on social media, we're unable to necessarily take any action or look into it because really there's no evidence in that video that the person was actually hit. No evidence. So it's something that we cannot -- we cannot completely read into that video and provide a true, accurate account of it. If it is the case, it is something we'll definitely look into.

In regards to using less than lethal ammunition, law enforcement are not going to lob rounds into a crowd like that. It's done to effect an arrest. Now, when law enforcement officers are on -- basically on bullets in the water and maybe on the other side of the water, it does no good to lob a round over on to that side, on to the peninsula area they were at. We wouldn't be able to move in and make an arrest there. Those rounds, sponge rounds would be used on someone who is displaying violent tendencies toward law enforcement. That's when they would be used and that is only when they would be used.

CB: North Dakota Highway Patrol Lieutenant, Tom Iverson, thank you for your time, sir. I appreciate it, I can only imagine how exhausted you are. We're praying for you, keep up the good work.

TI: Hey, Chris, I appreciate the support out there.

CB: Stay with us. When we come back, we are going to talk about some of the presidential polls, they are tightening. Also new news about Minnesota house of representative race between Ben Grimsley and Paul Marquart. Love to know your thoughts. Head to our website, Email us, text us, leave us a voice mail. We'll be right back.