MANDAN, N.D. (WTXF-STORYFUL-AP) - Two women who’d been protesting the Dakota Access pipeline claim a sheriff and police chief unreasonably ordered them to leave a restaurant, after calling them over talk.
Liz George told Storyful she and Kana Newell posted on Facebook while on their way out after a meal, Monday night, and it started when the police officers, seeing a “Water Is Life” badge on George’s back, asked them to come over to talk.
She said one of them asked how long they’d be in the area, to which she replied, “As long as the pipeline is proceeding.”
Then, one told her the pipeline construction would go ahead as planned. She said she asked him why he believed that, sparking a conversation about how the police and protesters are engaging with each other.
She said one the police officers told her protesters blocking intersections, as some had done that morning, would not win them local support.
George said she and Newell tried to explain it was intended as a statement in opposition to the police use of tear gas and water cannon against protesters the night before. (Click photo for gallery.)
Authorities doused protesters with water during a skirmish in subfreezing weather near the Dakota Access oil pipeline, and organizers said at least 17 protesters were taken to the hospital -- including some who were treated for hypothermia.
Late Sunday night’s clash came as protesters trying to push past a long-blocked bridge on a state highway were turned back by authorities with tear gas, rubber bullets and water hoses. One officer was injured when struck in the head with a rock. One protester was arrested.
George said one of the men said he thought the physical attacks on the protesters “needed to be done.”
She told Storyful as they tried to explain their positions, the sheriff and the police chief began speaking over them and getting aggressive. Then, they abruptly ended the conversation and ordered the women to leave the restaurant under threat of arrest.
She said they were short women of color, and “not intimidating” or being aggressive to the police. She said she was shaking and felt unsafe after leaving the restaurant, removing her “Water Is Life” badge for fear of attracting aggression.
According to Storyful, Chief Jason Ziegler of the Mandan Police Department and Sheriff Paul D. Laney of Cass County can be identified in the video, ordering the two women to leave under threat of arrest.
Storyful tried to contact the Mandan Police Department for comment and FOX 29 found nothing on the department’s website.