Sheriff Paul Laney has been at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests for quite some time, and he joined us tonight on Point of View. He agrees with a rancher from St. Anthony that some of the militant, eco-terrorists are looking for a confrontation.
Here is what Sheriff Laney said specifically, “Keep in mind, the majority of people are calm and peaceful, but that 200 to 300 people that are not from North Dakota are looking for a confrontation, they want a confrontation...and don’t let their rhetoric tell you anything different. Their actions speak for themselves. When you overtake someone’s property, you assault the people on that property, you have made your intent...you are a criminal and you need to be held accountable for your actions.”
Earlier today, Scott Hennen from the radio show called What’s On Your Mind, was at a St. Anthony town hall. He had the chance to visit with a couple of ranchers there, and here is what they had to say.
Rancher near the Dakota Access Pipeline protests says he never really used to own a lot of guns, and now he has a gun on him everywhere he goes because he is concerned for the safety of his family.
Please pray that no one gets injured or killed, because I have said before this situation is a tinder box. It just needs a spark for something really bad to take place.
(Please note - this transcript was copied from an electronic captioning service. We apologize for any errors, spelling, grammatical, or otherwise.)
Chris Berg: Good evening and welcome to "Point of View." I’m Chris Berg. Thank you for joining us. As you know, if you watch "point of view" with any regularity, I’ve got a very, very soft spot in my heart for Native Americans and the Native American culture. That's exactly why I went down to the Dakota Access pipeline Sacred Stone Camp back in early September. I want to see for myself, hey, what exactly is happening there? There was so much being said, so much being talked about, about the protesters, the protest site itself. I got to tell you, while I was there, everything that I saw with my own two eyes, it was peaceful and it was prayerful. The only issue I had was the fact that they were illegally on the army corps of engineer's land. But for the most part it's exactly what you and I envision for ourselves. We want to go out and exercise our first amendment rights.
Here is the thing, when you have a federal judge and an appeals court, they rule against you and your protest 3-0, because they say all the laws here were followed according to these judges, and then you had these militant eco-terrorists continue to go out there and damage property, verbal complete physically assault people, then you and i have a problem and a very serious one. This is a part I’m probably not the most upset about, but very upset about is you have 3,000 protesters roughly at these protest sites and right now we might be talking about maybe two to 300 of them that are these militant eco-terrorists. Every single one of you that are these militant eco-terrorists need to be charged to the fullest extents of the law. There has been a lot of rumors about what exactly has happened down at the dapple site. And yesterday our sister station in Bismarck recorded people being verbally assaulted. Before I play this video, I want to warn you, there is very graphic language in it. So if you've got kids in the room, you may want to ask them to leave or mute your TV for 30 to 60 seconds. We did our best to leave out any of the graphic language and let's roll the tape.
It appears this time to be volatile situation.
This was not a protest. This was a riot.
You need to go to your car and get the [ bleep ] out of here.
You don't need to talk to us like that.
Go to your car. You keep talking I’m going to [ bleep ].
We don't make the law. We enforce the law. And the courts have spoken. They have said that the company can work past the 20-mile exclusion.
CB: That's exactly right. Somebody yelled out, hey, the world is watching. You're right, the world is watching. So if you're a militant eco terrorist that you need to get out of our state and stop giving these peaceful, prayerful natives and others a bad name. As I said over a month ago, this thing is a tinder box. We don't need a bunch of eco militant terrorists causing someone to gets hurt and potentially lose their life. I have a video from a gentleman today that says look, I never used to carry guns. Now he's carrying down there every single day because he wants to protect his family. We want to give you some insight.
Joining us from our Bismarck studio is Mr. Paul Laney. Sheriff, first off, thank you so much for all the hard the word work you're doing. I know you've opinion away from your family. I want to start tonight's with this i want to share with you what somebody posted on our Facebook page and then give you a chance to respond. This is from Felicia Victor. She says definitely peaceful. Paul Laney, along with other goons and your crew are racist, sell-outs with all this injustice. No one has been hurt physically, hurt by these peaceful protectors. You say what, sir?
Sheriff Paul Laney: She sure hasn't been where we've been. And I’ve received, ever since the interview the other day, I received a number of those comments. And I guess I would challenge them to come see for themselves in the sense of what we're seeing every single day and you saw yourself the comments that were being made to a film crew in one breath the two to 300 people are scream being their first amendment right and how they have the right to do what they're doing, while they were squashing everybody else's first amendment right to be heard by blocking the crews, putting hands up in fronts of the cameras. Didn't want them to tell their story. So what is it? Do you want your first amendment right told or it's only if your version of what the first amendment should be? I really don't have much to say to her. And really want to dismiss the whole comment because it's not true. I will agree in the sense that as you said when you were down in the camps, the majority of these 3,000 people down there are that. While I have to agree with you, I disagree with the fact they're taking over federal corps land and blocked access to private property. The majority of them are peaceful. And the majority of them we have a good rapport with them. The majority of them we can talk to. But there are two to 300 of these militant people who are everything but that. And don't let their rhetoric and we're peaceful and there are no weapons and we're just trying to get along with everybody, couldn't be any further from the truth. We have seen their actions. You can't overtake somebody else's property, trash their equipment, assault the people on the property and then say we're peaceful? It makes no sense. It's a slap in the face of every intelligent person alive.
CB: I think one of the things that has been troubling for people and you and I talked about this in the past -- is there hasn't been -- from we understand, a ton of conversation between leaders. When you've got the state guard sent down there and you've got this militarized police equipment, it creates an idea of an us versus them situation. Is the militarized police officer equipment necessary and if so, why specifically?
PL: It's absolutely necessary. And keep in mind, it's not being used in an offensive situation. In many cases here, we've had numerous threats against the lives of the officers here. Numerous threats of they should all be shot. I'd love to slit their throats. I saw one post where an individual posted a double barrel shotgun said, would someone send me a new one so I can go to North Dakota and kill all the pigs in North Dakota that deserve to die. We have to prepare that. Somebody takes that seriously, we have to prepare for that. So you see them in the background. Of course, we have armor. If they open fire or somebody opens fire on us or would open fire on a citizen, we need to be able to go in, protect our people, protect their people, protect everybody involved in this and if that happens, we need the armor to do that. But it's not meant to be an intimidating presence in the sense that we're trying to intimidate them from what they're doing. You don't see the presence of these down by the camp where is it's peaceful. You don't see the presence of any of this just driving up and down the road to intimidate people. We show them, we bring them to a situation where there is danger and where there is the potential for violence or people getting hurt. We're professional law enforcement officers. We come prepared. It isn't about intimidation. It's about safety and being ready for anything that could happen. When you've seen the threats we've seen, we have to be ready for that and we have to take them seriously. Say you're going to say you're going to shoot us and you think we're going to sit by and let it happen.
CB: You said when you’ve seen the threats we've seen, can you be more specific? Some say language is one thing. You are mentioned potentially being shot at. What are some of those threats that you've seen that you think are potentially that dangerous?
PL: Well, of course, you have your social media threats, which again, a lot of that's just -- can be rhetoric. But you have to, when it's being said in the context of exactly what we're doing every day and the environment we're in, we have to take it serious. Talked to specific deputies who stood on the line and had people in their face tell them, you should be murdered. You have guns. We have guns. You want a war. We'll give you one. One case, one of our deputies was told, I’m going to add your scalp to a scalp pole. That said to their face. Their families threatened. Whether they're trying to get a rise out of our guys or they're just that angry at society in life that they feel they need to have that kind of discussion, that's what's being said. You can't in one breath do that. You can't do what you just did to those reporters yesterday and then say you're peaceful. It makes no sense. Peaceful is what you saw at the capitol.
CB: I have 60 seconds. I want to get one last thing in. I got a video from a St. Anthony taken -- town hall. I want to play a clip and get your response. What he had to say.
I feel bad 'cause it feels like they're trying to provoke confrontation with the public or with the police to say oh, look, you know, here we're innocent and there has been a confrontation.
CB: Quickly, sir, you say what to that?
PL: I agree with them. As I said, keep in mind, the majority, the massive amounts are calm and they are peaceful. But that two to 300 people who are not from North Dakota are looking for a confrontation. They want a confrontation. Don't let their rhetoric tell you anything different. Their actions speak for themselves. When you overtake somebody else's property, when you assault the people on that property, you made your intent. You're a criminal and you need to be held accountable for your actions.
CB: Sheriff, thank you from me and also a lot of people at the St. Anthony town hall were saying law enforcement has been outstanding. Thank you so much. I got to wrap it up. Love to have you back. Thank you for the update. We appreciate it very much.
PL: Thank you, Chris. Good to see you again. Look forward to being home. Hopefully soon.
CB: Amen to that. Stay with us, when we come back, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Marvin Nelson will join us. We'll talk about the Dakota Access pipeline, has he flip flopped on this situation? Also the FM Diversion. Stay with us. Let me know your point of view on what Sheriff Laney had to say. Stay with us. We'll be right back.