Police and National Guard troops cleared Dakota Access pipeline protestors yesterday from a camp illegally occupying land owned by the pipeline company. Authorities arrested 117 protestors, some of whom torched construction equipment and cars and one of whom fired a pistol at police. These protestors had already sacrificed their legal rights by trespassing; their acts of violence surrendered their claim to moral high ground.
Protestors can’t complain about being arrested for illegal action. If a crowd comes and sits in my yard and I don’t want them there, I have no problem with law enforcement evicting them.
That said, at least Dakota Access is getting a taste of their own medicine. The pipeline company clearly doesn’t like it when people come and sit on their land without the owner’s consent. I’d like to think that occupation will help them understand how farmers like Charlie Johnson and other farmers along the pipeline route feel about Dakota Access using the threat of eminent domain to force their way onto land where they aren’t welcome. But cops in war gear will never hit Dakota Access honchos with pepper spray and bean bags.
Dakota Access protestors should stay off private property and restrict their pipeline resistance to federal lands. After all, they now have the precedent of the acquittal of Ammon Bundy and his co-conspirators who occupied the federal Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon for six weeks earlier this year. Federal jurors affirmed the defense argument that Bundy and his armed anti-government troublemakers were simply exercising their First Amendment rights when they occupied the wildlife refuge and wrecked government property.
Of course, Bundy and his pals were a little whiter than the Dakota Access protestors….
p.s.: After our great on-air conversation about the youth minimum wage, other ballot measures, blog traffic, and our desire for an informed democracy, Greg Belfrage and I discussed the Dakota Access protests for a quick Daily Dose podcast: