Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Dakota Access Pipeline Opponents Threaten, Harass Local Businesses, Ranchers, and Farmers

Since his heart attack 10 years ago, Jeff Hinz had tended as carefully to his health as he had to his ACE hardware store. Both had flourished. But as the three phones in his Bismarck store rang off the hook, as opponents of the Dakota Access pipeline vowed to boycott his shop and screamed death threats in his ear, Hinz’s chest began to tighten, his heart palpitating in a sickly familiar way. On Nov. 29, a rumor hit the Internet falsely claiming that Hinz and his ACE hardware stores refused to sell propane and other equipment to the Standing Rock protestors. The fake story spread fast, appearing on Jezebel as well as several other leftie blogs, spawning a hashtag calling for a boycott of Hinz’s store. “You go from the top of the world to the bottom in about two minutes,” Hinz said. “And scared—very scared. Your life is one thing, but everything you’ve built with your life? I’ve been in this town since ’87. I’m 56. You don’t go start over somewhere. This is my life’s work, and it’s essentially gone in a day. … For a little hardware store to get thrust into that kind of hate across the country, that’s not fun.” As the Standing Rock protests have continued, they’ve drawn thousands of out-of-state activists, sowing bitter divisions in the small North Dakota communities. Several local businesses have experienced similar turmoil and threats, with local farmers and ranchers also complaining protestors have trespassed on their land, damaging or stealing their property and harassing them and their families. These local accounts belie the claims of pipeline opponents, often repeated in the national media, that the protests have been “peaceful and prayerful.” Representatives for the Standing Rock Sioux did not respond to Heat Street’s two emailed queries, sent over several days, about allegations of harassment and intimidation. Hinz said the onslaught on his hardware store was especially heart-wrenching because he’s had a great relationship with the Standing Rock Sioux for decades. When his business was fledgling, he said, the tribe supported him, buying supplies for their housing entity, for their school. “They’re good, good people,” he said. Since the Standing Rock protests began, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department has arrested more than 565 people—and nine out of ten of those charged with a crime have come from out-of-state, a sheriff’s department spokeswoman said.,,more

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