“This Is A Brave Space”

Local white-rights activist claims Charlottesville rally was a trap, dozens gathered locally to remember a victim and renounce hate

By. C.S. Hagen
FARGO – Pete Tefft woke up Saturday morning in Charlottesville, Virginia, eager to march for what he believed in: white rights. The racist hors d’oeuvres from the night before – a torch lit march to the Confederacy’s top general Robert E Lee’s statue – was too small a sampling, and he wanted more.

Sure, fights had broken out Friday night. While being filmed by a Unicorn Riot crew he was challenged, and a like-minded person nearby clobbered the journalist.

Pete Tefft in Charlottesville Unit the Right Rally – Unicorn Riot screenshot of video

“Cite a source for what you’re saying about white people being murdered in South Africa,” the journalist said.

“Cite a source?” Tefft said. “On the Internet.”

“That’s a f*cking rabbit hole,” a bystander yelled, and then punched the journalist.

“Hard to get excited about walking into a war zone,” Tefft said. “Everyone needs to do their duty though. I’m still in shock from seeing our guys beaten, maced, and pelted with projectiles while the police stood by and did nothing.”

Saturday night at 8:29, live updates published by the Daily Stormer, a white nationalist platform featuring the Summer of Hate Edition, included congratulatory messages.

“To those of you in Charlottesville, go out and enjoy yourselves,” the update stated. “If you’re at a bar in a group, random girls will want to have sex with you. Because you’re the bad boys. The ultimate enemy of the state. Every girl on the planet wants your d*ck now.

“And to everyone, know this: we are now at war.”

The altercation Friday night didn’t leave Tefft fazed, nor did the violence the following day alter his conviction about white rights.

“The AltRight went to an assembly that was peaceful and legal,” Tefft wrote early Monday morning on his Facebook page. “The AltRight went to assemble in order to advocate for the rights of white people to exist and protest the erasure of American culture, history, and to uphold the First Amendment. We followed every legal measure and were cooperative with authorities…”

“The state violated our Constitutional rights and let Antifa and BLM do the knife work for them. Any blood is on the hands of the police, the city of Charlottesville, and the state of Virginia.”

Tefft continued by saying the rally was not a Ku Klux Klan or neo Nazi rally, but an AltRight rally.

Richard Spencer and white-right activists facing police line – online sources

“This was a rally by people advocating for white identity. And it was brutally shut down. The media sees the deaths as a godsend so that the tyranny of the government can be forgotten and retroactively justified,” Tefft said.

“It was a trap, plain and simple. But let us be clear. Ultimately, this was a victory for us. Our movement will be emboldened by Charlottesville. The ‘Unite the Right’ rally legitimized our struggle.

“The is the beginning of the white civil rights movement.”

Since Tefft’s turn to white supremacist ideals, friends and family have denounced him, yet he still remains loyal to his cause. His father, Pearce, recently published a letter condemning his son’s beliefs.

“I, along with all of his siblings and his entire family, wish to loudly repudiate my son’s vile, hateful, and racist rhetoric and actions,” Pearce Tefft wrote. “We do not know specifically where he learned these beliefs. He did not learn them at home.”

The Tefft family has remained mostly quiet since Fargoan Luke Safely identified Tefft as a Nazi last February.

“Peter Tefft, my son, is not welcome at our family gatherings any longer. I pray my prodigal son will renounce his hateful beliefs and return home. He once joked, ‘The thing about us fascists is, it’s not that we don’t believe in freedom of speech. You can say whatever you want. We’ll just throw you in an oven.’

“Peter, you will have to shovel our bodies into that oven, too. Please son, renounce the hate, accept and love all.”

So far, the Charlottesville tragic events have spurred little response from the state’s Republican leadership. Senator Heidi Heitkamp D-ND, tweeted Sunday evening. “Yesterday was a terrible and tragic day. The KKK and neo Nazis have no place in our country.”

On Sunday, Congressman Kevin Cramer R-ND, re-tweeted a post by Paul Ryan, speaker of the House of Representative, saying, “The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant. Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry.”

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke pointed to President Donald Trump as the bedrock for the “Unite the Right” Charlottesville rally.

“Today will be a historic day, remembered as the moment everything changed,” Duke tweeted.

“This represents a turning point for the people of this country,” Duke said in a video uploaded to Twitter. “We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump. Because he said he’s going to take our country back. That’s what we gotta do.”

James Bergman preparing to sing “We’ll Still Stand” – photo by C.S. Hagen

Later, Duke reminded President Trump on Twitter on exactly who his greatest constituency was. “I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror and remember it was white Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.”

Shortly after one woman, Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer, 32, was killed when a car allegedly driven by James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Ohio, plowed into a crowd, and two police officer were killed when their helicopter crashed, Trump gave a press conference weakly condemning the violence.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence, on many sides,” Trump said. “On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country.”

At least 19 others were also injured during the rally.

Trump’s vague statement spurred Merck CEO Ken Crazier to quit the president’s manufacturing business council, according to the USA Today. His casual remarks also inspired a question from Richard Spenser, a white supremacist and president of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank.

“Did Trump just denounce Antifa?” Spencer tweeted.

Heyer’s death prompted a Fargo/Moorhead response late Sunday night, when nearly 100 people gathered for a candlelight vigil on Veterans Memorial Bridge. With only a few hours of preparation time, Fargoan James Bergman wrote the song “We’ll Still Stand,” which he performed for the first time Sunday night.

“If I stand up against hate (in spite of all my fear), and someone strikes me down, the ground might be bloody but my conscience will be clear,” some of the song lyrics stated.

Candlelight vigil on Veterans Memorial Bridge to remember Heather Heyer – photo by C.S. Hagen

“The idea that people who marched in Charlottesville believe they are Christian, that is disgusting to me,” Bergman later said before the crowd. “We can’t afford to be silent right now. We need to show up, we need to stand up, and we need to speak up against hate.”

Moorhead Mayor Del Ray Williams spoke at the event.

“I don’t know if racism or hatred has necessarily increased in our community,” Williams said. “It is a hard thing to measure. What seems to have changed is the nationalists seem to feel emboldened to speak out publicly. I am proud of our community members that came out to the candlelight vigil last night to offer support and love to counter the nationalist movement.”

Ruth Buffalo, an organizer of the event, encouraged people to speak their minds. “This is a brave space, to step forward and take action,” Buffalo said.

“We need to be kinder than is needed,” Jen Welle, of Moorhead said.

“This has been happening in our country for a long, long time and Heather is another name on that long list,” Melissa Gonzalez, of Fargo said.

“We are called to speak for those who are voiceless,” Martin Avery, of Fargo said.

Diogenes Alexander Rex and Hamida Dakane during the candlelight vigil on Veterans Memorial Bridge – photo by C.S. Hagen

Amal Dei, a former refugee from South Sudan, spoke about how her heart was torn apart when she heard of Heyer’s death. “But love will always win no matter what.”

Dana Bisignani, of the Democratic Socialist Party, quoted Welsh socialist Raymond Williams. “To be truly radical is to make hope possible, not despair convincing.

“Part of the reason we have so much hate is because of decades of decimating our public schools,” Bisignani said.

Shaun King, senior justice writer for the New York Daily News, condemned the violence in Charlottesville.

“I see Heather as a martyr in this modern day movement against injustice and oppression,” King said. “I’ve said it many times, but if you ever wondered what it would be like to be alive in the Civil Rights Movement, you are living in that time right now. And if you ever wondered who you would be or what you would do in those circumstances, the best indication is what you did this weekend.”

During a North Dakota United Against Hate rally in early August, Tefft said he planned to first attend the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, and then begin planning rallies in the Fargo/Moorhead area.

“I want to bring awareness to a lot of these issues, and the only way to do it is out in the public square,” Tefft said. One of the issues he plans on focusing on is mass immigration into North Dakota, which he claims is an anti-white policy.

Candlelight vigil in Fargo for Heather Heyer – photo by C.S. Hagen

Dakota Access Faces Allegations of Misconduct

Second allegation filed by the North Dakota Public Service Commission to be discussed next week in public hearing

By C.S. Hagen
– While some in the Peace Garden State claim Standing Rock activists are terrorists, jihadists, or simply troublemakers, the companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline are also apparently far from innocent.

In addition to a civil lawsuit filed by the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board against international security company TigerSwan, the company now faces allegations of misconduct filed by the North Dakota Public Service Commission.

Two investigations from North Dakota Public Service Commission are now pending, involving Dakota Access, LLC.

On May 31, 2017, the Commission opened an investigation into Dakota Access, LLC’s work along the pipeline route.

“DAPL agreed to and participated in a preconstruction conference to ensure that the company fully understood the conditions set forth in the Commission’s order upon which the certificate and permit were granted,” a 33-page staff memorandum in response to the opened investigation stated. The memorandum was written by John Schuh, a staff attorney for the Commission, and by Sara Cardwell.

Fuel tank improperly protected – North Dakota Public Service Commission

“There were a number of deficiencies and possible violations that were recorded such as debris left on the right of way, unsafe work practices, silt fences in disrepair, and not being compliant with the North Dakota Department of Health Environmental Section guidelines.”

Additionally, wood matting was laid down in sensitive areas, cultural sites were discovered and the company rerouted without alerting the Commission in a timely manner. The pipeline company was also charged 83 times with destroying trees and landscape past 85 feet on either side of the pipeline, according to the memorandum.

The North Dakota section of the pipeline is 210 miles long, running through Mountrail, Williams, McKenzie, Dunn, Mercer, Morton, and Emmons counties, and cost an estimated $1.41 billion, according to the Commission.

“This will be an investigative hearing, it’s kind of a first step,” Consumer Affairs Specialist with the Commission Stacy Eberl, said. “The commissioners have asked the company to come in and give their side of the story on some allegations that staff brought forward concerning tree removal, subsoil segregation, and a fuel tank that didn’t have the proper containment unit around it.

“It’s a mix of different things that were noticed after construction,” Eberl said. “The other separate complaint has to deal with an incident where a cultural resource was discovered while they were building, and that’s the one where the company rerouted around the site, which was good, but they failed to notify the Commission. That one is holding right now. There is nothing formal on how they will resolve this quite yet.”

Dakota Access, LLC could be fined a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000 for each violation for each day the violations persist, except the maximum penalty cannot exceed $200,000 for any related series of violations, Eberl said.

DAPL tree and shrub clearing greater than 85 feet – North Dakota Public Service Commission

Eberl couldn’t say if Dakota Access, LLC representatives were cooperating with the investigation.

“When we have an open case the Commission has to stay neutral because they are the judges,” Eberl said.

Keitu Engineers & Consultants, Inc. performed the third-party construction consulting services, conducting inspections almost weekly from May 2016 until February 2017, according to the memorandum.

“Keitu’s conclusion was that overall the project was generally maintained and in good condition,” the memorandum stated. “However, Keitu did find that there were deficiencies.”

The most common problem discovered was inadequate soil segregation – meaning subsoil and topsoil were piled together. An inspection on August 24, 2016 discovered tree removal extended beyond not only the 50 feet agreed upon in certification documents, but also beyond the 85 feet extension approved later by the Commission upon DAPL’s request, according to the memorandum.

An August 4, 2016 investigation led to the discovery of a fuel trailer, which was not properly contained, according to the memorandum.

North Dakota has been the deadliest state to work in for five years running. The 2017 edition of “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect,” compiled by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization, a national trade union center and the largest federation of unions in America, reported its latest statistics for 2015 that 12.5 North Dakota workers per 100,000 were injured on the job, and 47 people died while on the job.

Statistics for 2016 are not yet available.

On March 23, 2017, Mike Futch, the DAPL Project Manager for North Dakota, replied to the allegations saying that there exists a difference of opinions between inspectors, but that he would be willing to discuss the issues. Dakota Access, LLC used a company called Duraroot Environmental Consulting to perform its own investigation, which denied the company was liable in many of the cases cited by the Commission.

The public hearing on the issues will be conducted on Thursday, August 17, at 8:30am in the Commission’s Hearing Room in the capitol building.

Dave Piepkorn: Behind Bannon’s refugee resettlement plans?

Fargo city commissioner claims information provided to city is lies

By C.S. Hagen
– The Fargo City Commissioner leading the charge against refugee resettlement in Fargo claimed partial responsibility this week for helping the national push on the same issue.

City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn – photo provided by City of Fargo

During an interview Monday morning on AM 1100 The Flag Need To Know Morning Show, Dave Piepkorn responded to information related to a Freedom of Information Act request, made to the city by the High Plains Reader, or HPR Magazine, into any connections between Piepkorn and Breitbart, an alt-right media outlet once managed by special advisor to President Donald Trump, Stephen Bannon.

Breitbart reporter Lee Stranahan attended a Fargo City Commissioners meeting last year and published a story about refugee resettlement in Breitbart on October 22, 2016.

HPR Magazine’s FOIA request was called a subpoena by a host on the Need To Know Morning Show.

“Obviously they’re trying to discredit me, doing whatever they can to do that,” Piepkorn said during the radio show. “What they thought was that Steve Bannon, as you know, who is active on the President’s staff, I think what they thought that they were basically telling me what to do and giving me instructions when actually, if you look back at the initial executive orders for refugee restrictions, they actually used quite a bit of my material in the original one, so that is what went down.”

Piepkorn admitted his self-reported influence at a national level pleased him.

“That’s very flattering, obviously to be a humble little city commissioner in Fargo, North Dakota, is pretty cool,” Piepkorn said.

Trump Administration executive orders filed on January 25, entitled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” and “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements,” and on January 27 entitled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” make no mention of any of the issues Piepkorn introduced to the City Commission on September 26, 2016.

During the meeting, Piepkorn raised the topic that Fargo, Cass County, West Fargo, and accompanying school districts were spending millions of taxpayers’ dollars on refugees in what he called an “unfunded mandate.”  

Worried about tuberculosis, Piepkorn also became critical of health records and criminal records of New Americans arriving in Fargo during the city commissioners meeting.

Exactly which refugee restriction policies Piepkorn claims to have influenced were unclear at this time. Piepkorn did not return direct calls for comment.

Refugee resettlement issues sparked a movement to recall Piepkorn’s seat as a commissioner for Fargo, which failed in May for lack of votes.

“Over the past two months our volunteers have worked ceaselessly to hold accountable a city commissioner who continues to abuse his power in the effort to denigrate and marginalize some of the city’s most vulnerable residents,” the recall committee said in a press release at the time.

“Piepkorn’s actions are the actions of a bully and we will continue to work to ensure that no elected official, especially those installed with a minority of votes, uses their office to spread fear, foment distrust, or divide our community.”

Since January 2002, 3,677 refugees were settled in Fargo, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota reported. A total of 1,553 people came from Bhutan, 811 people from Somalia, 672 from Iraq, 228 from Congo, 209 from Liberia, and 204 from Sudan. The American Communities Survey reports the population of foreign-born people in the Fargo/Moorhead area is 10,663, or 4.5% of total population, as of October 2016.

Piepkorn called to have city leaders included in refugee resettlement decisions, but he also stated on October 10, 2016 that he was shocked to learn that refugees receive all the rights of a legal resident.

For months, the Fargo City Commissioners have heard feedback from local businesses, from police, from Lutheran Social Services, and from others involved with refugee resettlement, all of whom have said that having refugees in the Fargo/Moorhead area are cost-positive.

“New Americans, or refugees and immigrants, make up approximately three percent of North Dakota’s population,” according to the American Immigration Council.

“They are employers, taxpayers, and workers in fields few local citizens are willing to go,” according to the Refugee Resettlement in Fargo report filed by the Fargo Human Relations Commission.

“Foreign-born residents contributed $542.8 million to the city’s GDP in 2014, and have a spending power of $149.4 million,” the report states. “A first generation immigrant is cost-positive in North Dakota by approximately $3,250, and long-term benefits are incalculable,” according to the report.

The Fargo Police Department and the Fargo Human Relations Commission also published a report in January saying that crime rates are not higher in refugee populations.

“There are good and bad people in every population,” Fargo Police Officer and liaison to the Fargo Human Relations Commission Vince Kempf said. “In my experience, the ratio of persons committing crime remains the same from culture to culture. From a law enforcement perspective, the cost of refugees being placed in Fargo is impossible to calculate, as are the benefits of having refugees settled here.”

According to the American Community Survey immigrants are less likely to be criminals than native-born people, citing U.S. Census Bureau statistics incarceration rates of 1.6 percent of immigrant males aged 18 to 39 as opposed to 3.3 percent rate of native-born males of the same age group.

The total population of Fargo is 105,549, of which 95,205 are white, 3,137 are Asian, 2,852 are African American, 2,308 are Hispanic, 2,206 are two or more races, and 1,452 are Native Americans, according to statistics provided in 2017 by the U.S. Census Bureau.These numbers do not reflect areas surrounding Fargo, including West Fargo or outlying areas.

Fargo reflects state statistics as being 90 percent white  
In the state, Native Americans make up for the second largest demographic, with 605,449 white people, and 36,591 Native Americans. Only 7,960 people are listed as African American, and 13,467 as Hispanic, according to 2017 U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

The issue has been brought to the state legislation’s attention, which has agreed to a series of meetings to discuss the refugee resettlement issue in North Dakota.

While on live radio, Piepkorn pointed out that people have been lying to the Fargo City Commissioners.

“And I do think that this next step with the legislature having this review, that’s way more serious because it’s one thing to have a city commissioner asking questions, but when you start not telling the truth to a legislative committee and will have the state auditor and things like that involved, it’s much more serious when you don’t tell the truth,” Piepkorn said.

“There’s this idea that the ball is hidden somewhere,” Fargo Community Development Administrator Dan Mahli, said. “No one is hiding the ball. We’re not keeping track of that level of detail, when someone uses city services, or calls the fire department, or the police. Sitting down and talking about where we are at and finding out how we can improve. Let’s do that.”

Separating who is a refugee and who is not is a near impossible task, Mahli said.

“The thing that stands out is that every one of these studies speaks of the difficulty of segregating the data between foreign-born populations, refugee status, and people of color,” Mahli said. “The idea of comparing the studies, that frankly none of them are about refugees, even the one from the finance committee, it says the information herein cannot be separated as a refugee study.”

Barry Nelson, of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition and of the Fargo Human Relations Commission, said Piepkorn’s allegations that people have been lying to the city commissioners saddens him.

“I think it’s a sad state of affairs when you have a seated elected official who doesn’t like the information being reported on by a group of citizens and volunteers who work diligently on trying to do justice,” Nelson said. “And he ends up calling the information fake news, propaganda and lies. It’s a very, very sad state of affairs.”

Nelson, along with city employees, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota employees, have repeatedly asked for a sit down with Piepkorn.  

“Let’s have a conversation,” Nelson said. “Dave Piepkorn has never reached out to any one of us who did this at his request. He’s never wanted to talk about it, and again he didn’t show up for the report.”

While not trimming lawns, Piepkorn also serves as the deputy mayor of Fargo, and formerly served as a member of the FargoDome Authority.

“There are people watching what we are doing around the country,” Piepkorn said. “And actually the world too, without a doubt. This is going to be one of the key issues around the 2018 election cycle, and it’s a huge deal.”

Piepkorn also said there is no shortage of laborers in Fargo, but there is a shortage of people willing to work for $10 an hour.

Specific expenditures on how much refugees cost the city have so far been difficult to discover, according to testimonies before the Fargo City Commissioners.

Piepkorn thinks differently.

“These numbers aren’t difficult to find at all, they’re difficult to reveal to the public, because you know, obviously a lot of people don’t want to go through what I’ve gone through,” Piepkorn said. “The numbers aren’t hard to find at all, they’re all there. The challenge is to find the courage to disclose them to the public because of political correctness.”

Fargo Police Chief Todd said his department has provided all the financial figures possible, including the cost of employing a cultural liaison officer.

“We did supply financial costs as what we put into it as a department,” Todd said. “Another separate question we have gotten that I have not been able to answer is arrest statistics for New Americans and refugees.”

Police departments do not collect data on whether someone is a refugee, but they do collect data on race.

“But just because you are African American doesn’t mean you are a refugee or a New American, you might be from Chicago, and been there your whole life, or you might be from Somalia. I can’t differentiate within that race statistic as to who is New American and who is a refugee.”

Todd said he had no issues with an investigation into the costs of refugee resettlement.

“People have asked me whether I think it’s appropriate to ask questions about what things cost,” Todd said.  “We should do our best to answer those questions. I also think it’s an opportunity for the refugee community and new American community that yes, these are the costs the government may have, but here’s the benefit of the result of that investment.”

Targeting approximately three percent of Fargo’s population is a political issue, as well as a humanitarian one, Nelson said in April.

“The attempt to isolate residents in an attempt to identify costs is next to impossible and illegitimate without context,” Nelson said. “In the context and level of our community assessment it appears that the positive financial and cultural impacts far outweigh any initial costs of investment.”

“Terminating or slowing down the refugee resettlement program would have a negative cycle of effects on the City of Fargo, both immediate and long term,” the Refugee Resettlement in Fargo report handed to the city commissioners stated.

“Immediate effects would include further exacerbating the workforce shortage, requiring more businesses to leave and/or outsource their operations. Long-term effects include economic slowdown due to a loss of business revenue and creating an inability to keep our younger generation in Fargo and/or attract new talent to the area.”

Despite the testimonies, Piepkorn remains unmoved.

“It goes along with the High Plains Reader, they’re trying to discredit what we’re trying to do,” Piepkorn said during the radio show. “And it’s not surprising. Liberals have their agenda, and they’re the opposition.”

Surviving Hate in the Peace Garden State

A former North Dakotan speaks about life as a racial target

By C.S. Hagen
– The hate Matthew Kinslow experienced while growing up in North Dakota reads like someone’s long and horrid to-do list.

The Kinslow family – photo provided by Matthew Kinslow

Half Korean, half German, Kinslow was smaller than other children his age. He was quiet. Dark haired, brown eyed. An easy target. Poor. Sometimes people thought he was gay because he dressed differently.

“Since I travelled and saw the world I couldn’t really understand the people I grew up around,” Kinslow said. “And of course, they couldn’t understand me. I had a world-is-tiny view, and they lived in a bubble.”

A bubble of racial stereotypes, he said, that left him on the receiving end of scorn and fists at Valley City High School.

“I remember in school when we were learning about the Vietnam War, all the kids in the school started to hunt me like I was an enemy,” Kinslow said.

“They’d ask me stupid questions about rice paddies and eating dog. Had guns pulled on me. My friends and I got put in the hospital because we were listening to rap music. I’ve been held down and spat on, called all kinds of names. I was always called racial slurs growing up, literally almost every day. I used to hang around Native Americans a lot because I could blend in a lot more.”

In the early 2000s, when the Nationalist Socialist Party of North Dakota was attempting to gain a foothold in the state, Kinslow had a cousin with a white supremacist message – “14 Words” – tattooed to his forearm. The racist group met secretly in a barn outside of the city. The reference “14 Words,” is a white supremacist slogan originally 88 words in length and straight from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

“I’ve been told if ‘you ain’t white, so you ain’t right,’ a few times.”

His biggest ‘mistake’ in his adolescent years was to hug a white girl that was dating a friend.

“Her cousin called her a race traitor,” Kinslow, now 38, said. “I started talking sh*t to him and he got a shotgun out.”

Thinking quickly, Kinslow wrestled the shotgun away, and threw it into a ditch, he said. Later that month, police charged him with theft of a firearm, and Kinslow spent two weeks sitting in Barnes County Correctional Facility to ponder how the charge was possible.

He couldn’t afford the $1,000  fine. LaMoure County Sheriff’s Department incident reports state that two weapons were taken from Casey Kuska’s vehicle, parked at a Cenex in Dickey, North Dakota. One of the weapons was a bolt action .270-caliber Remington and the second was a 12-gauge pump action shotgun. Both weapons had a total value of $743, police reports indicated. A second suspect was also included in the police investigation.

At the time, no one could, or would vouch for Kinslow’s version of events, which included that he did not take any weapons from the vehicle, Kinslow said.

14 Words tattoo – photo provided by Matthew Kinslow

Admittedly, that year wasn’t the best time for Kinslow. “My mom had cancer, and my dad and I were fighting as I was living with a friend’s parents,” Kinslow said. “There wasn’t anyone to tell them they pulled on me, it was a crazy situation.”

As far as he knows, the person who pulled a shotgun on him walked. “When you’re growing up, you think it’s normal.” After staying in North Dakota to serve out his probationary period, Kinslow moved to Colorado.

“It really does come from the culture though,” he said. “You can see the older people instill these tendencies, and they make light of things they say and how they perceive people. It trickles down.”

The racial slurs, the beat-downs, the racially motivated hate Kinslow experienced as a child brewed anger in him at a young age, he said. “Took me a lot of counseling and anger management to shed it, but I think it made me a stronger person. It made me an activist. Takes a lot of words to rile me up now.”

Now, Kinslow, with two daughters whose DNA results showed they have the blood of nearly every race on earth, won’t tolerate intolerance. “Everyone has prejudices and hates certain people, you’re conditioned to it, but still have to leave people alone.”

He tried rehab three times, took anger management classes. Doctors prescribed muscle relaxers, Tramadol, Ritalin, and Zoloft, to help with pain, physical and emotional, but nothing worked until his third attempt, Kinslow said. Through his trials, however, Kinslow has learned empathy, which in hindsight, he didn’t think possible.

“My wife thinks it’s strange I can always tell when someone’s having a bad day or is sad, even strangers. I’ll walk up and give strangers hugs. I’m not scared to help.”

Hate crime legislation in North Dakota is needed, Kinslow said, but laws won’t solve prejudice.

“It’s a double-edged sword. Having the law doesn’t make people hate less, it’s a crappy culture that does. It’s socially acceptable to be racist. Laws don’t stop people from doing things, laws just make it easier to point fingers and tell them that they’re bad people. “

Dialogue is what is needed, Kinslow said. “I’ve known it existed my whole life and I’m fine with it. I know it won’t go away, and I’m okay with that. It’s harder for me to hear people say it doesn’t exist than to see it happen.

“When you denounce its existence you make the incident okay.”

A few years ago, former Valley City Attorney Russell Myhre would not have agreed that the state needed hate crime legislation.

“In light of events in North Dakota in the past few years, I have changed my mind,” Myhre, who now runs a private practice in Valley City, said. “Leith, NoDAPL, the Grand Forks incident, and some other less notorious criminal acts,” are examples of why the state needs hate crime legislation, he said.

“Motive, while a notable explanation for criminal assault or homicide, is not a legal element of the crime,” Myhre said. “Hate crime legislation would make motive an element, which would highlight an aggravating circumstance in terms of sentencing.”

In other words, those convicted of hate crimes would face tougher sentences.

“This gets to the fundamental question of whether society believes it is necessary to penalize bias and prejudice when it is a factor in the commission of a crime,” Myhre said.

North Dakota already ranks second in the nation for hate crimes, according to statistics compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. So far in 2017, the state is doing little to change that statistic, and the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition has documented four incidents of hate crimes this year in Fargo.  

“North Dakota already has similar statutes in place for dangerous sexual offenders, habitual criminals, crimes involving firearms, etc.,” Myhre said. “There are also statutes which give judges discretion for aggravating (and mitigating) factors. The question is whether society believes prejudice-based crimes, overtly committed, are worthy of a focused attention by enacting them into law.”

Some say the state already has its bases covered with current laws. The recent Walmart incident that went viral online when a white woman, Amber Hensley, threatened three Muslim women with death brought a range of ideas to the forefront.

“Anyone but a white Christian woman would be in jail,” Jana Stone, of Colorado, said in a Facebook post. “Without all the posting and hell raising, it would have received zero attention by anyone.”

“If their races and religions were reversed, ICE and the FBI would have gotten involved,” Rissa Williams, of Bismarck, said in a Facebook post.

“The whole idea of ‘hate’ crime as a legal definition is rather absurd,” Fargoan Adam Carico said. “If someone murders someone, is it any less heinous if they did not do it because of the victim’s skin color or religious beliefs or gender?”

“Diversity is code for ‘anti-white,’” Nick Bata, a Fargoan who campaigned unsuccessfully for North Dakota Insurance Commissioner as a Libertarian last year, said on Facebook. Bata is the candidate who used the phrase, “Make America Rape Again,” in a public Facebook thread in 2016. Bata said at the time he wouldn’t apologize for making the statement, saying the phrase was a sarcastic response to an inaccurate allegation, according to media reports.

“Left-wing proponents of hate crime legislation suggest that the stiffer penalties for crimes motivated by things like the race or sexual orientation of the victim serve as a deterrent to those crimes, but does that pass the smell test?” Rob Port, an editorialist with the Forum Communication Company said on his “Say Anything Blog.”

“There is no conclusive evidence that the increasing number of hate crime laws on the books in states across the nation have reduced hate crime at all,” Port said. “Most states have hate crime legislation today, and yet nationally the FBI’s measure of the incidence of hate crimes has remained relatively static.”

“Thought policing is wrong, and that is what hate crime legislation essentially is,” Fargoan Pete Tefft, a self-declared pro-white activist, said. Tefft plans to attend the AltRight’s Unite the Right rally on August 12 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Afterward, Tefft said, he plans to hold a rally in Fargo to bring attention to the idea that suppressing hate speech is the same as denying freedom of speech.

“Hate crime legislation is one piece of a larger puzzle in fighting hate crime,” Barry Nelson of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition, said. “It is a recognition by the state that crimes committed against individuals based on their identification with a group has unique impact on that individual and community. We are looking at both city ordinances as well as state legislation which we recognize will require much education and advocacy.”

For proponents of hate crime legislation in North Dakota, an assault conviction is not enough if racial hate is involved. Advocacy groups’ goals are to bring hate crime laws to the legislature in 2019, and in the meantime raise awareness and support, and establish a rapid response team, Nelson said.

The rapid response team – expected to be established within a month – will include professionals, law enforcement personnel, training staff, and a publicity committee to assist with hate crime responses, Nelson said.

“It does not take into account the fact that hate crimes can affect a whole group of people,” Nelson said. “I also think for the record it should be noted if the crime was based on hate. Having a conviction for assault alone does not adequately address the seriousness of a hate crime.”

Kinslow is still hoping that the governor will one day pardon him, clearing his record. His cousin involved with white supremacy groups committed suicide, he said, but he’s overcome the angry demons that once haunted him.

Kinslow remembers the day when he stopped being ashamed of his ancestry. It was on a homecoming date in junior high. His friend didn’t want to dance with his date, so she asked Kinslow for a dance. She didn’t care that he looked different than the uniformly white classmates, and they spent the rest of the evening discussing why he shouldn’t care what other people thought.

“If they’re going to pick on you when you’re trying not to get picked on, so why not give them a reason? That way it’s not for nothing,” Kinslow said the girl told him.

“I kinda lost my fear after that.”

When Kinslow was 14, he saw a classmate’s father scream at his sons, and beat one of them with a belt – the same boy that picked on him at school.

“I felt so bad for them,” Kinslow said. “It’s like I saw the hate they had, but it was taught. They learned it. I can’t hate back at people like that, it’s not their fault.

“I was never really ashamed of my culture, just was ignorant of the fact that it should be the opposite,” Kinslow said. “I should have been ashamed of American culture for making me feel that way, even though I was American. It’s why I can’t have pride in my country.

“How can a country be proud when it shames its own citizens for being different?”

Is It Time For Hate Crime Legislation?

Activists and a handful of counter protesters gather in the rain to discuss hate crime legislation and support for victims

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO – Afternoon rain didn’t stop nearly 200 people from supporting an anti-hate rally Wednesday outside current City Hall. The event also attracted counter protesters, although they predominantly remained quiet.

Hukun Abdullahi and David Myers at the rally – photo by C.S. Hagen

Christians, Jews, Muslims, and activists spoke at the North Dakota United Against Hate rally in an attempt to garner support for hate crime victims and to begin the campaign of making hate-crime laws, which North Dakota does not currently have.

Groups such as the Democratic Socialists of America and Trans Lives Matter also showed up in support of the cause.

David Myers, a Jew, and founder of the Center for Interfaith Projects, a nonprofit organization, said much if not all hostility toward refugees is actually hostility targeting Muslims.

“I feel religiously called to welcome refugees and immigrants, including Muslims, indeed all the New Americans,” Myers said. “I am aware of the long history of prejudice against Jews. Jews have been and still are in many places of the world the ‘hated other.’ This enables me to put myself in the place of New Americans, who are Muslims.”

“The question is: how can we reduce hate directed at Muslims?”

Religious prejudice can be overcome through knowledge and personal relationships, Myers said.

“We cannot forget that a number of decades ago, the most hated religious groups in this country were Jews and Catholics,” Myers said. “This has dramatically changed.”

The two groups that people in the United States feel most positive about today are Jews and Catholics, he said.

“Do not hate the stranger in your heart, it will poison you, and make your life miserable,” Myers said.

The rally was interrupted halfway through one of the speeches, when Kevin Benko, of Fargo, shouted from a nearby parking lot.

“Hate speech is just a difference of opinion, you assholes,” Benko said.

Police officers approached him, while Pete Tefft, identified as a Nazi by Fargoan Luke Safely in February, came over to offer support.

“Muslims who are not assimilated are a problem,” Benko said. “They are under Sharia law, and if that conflicts with the Constitution, the Constitution gets thrown out.”

When asked if he disagreed with the state accepting more refugees, Benko said as long as they assimilated, he didn’t have a problem.

Kevin Benko talking to police – photo by C.S. Hagen

Tefft, who wore a red “Make America Great Again” Trump hat, said he had friends with him, but they were there primarily to watch his back. He didn’t admit to being a Nazi, or a Nazi sympathizer, but worries that by 2050 white people in America will be the minority.

“My contention is that most of what constitutes hate speech affects pro-white speech,” Tefft said. “Anti hate speech is synonymous with anti-white and anti-America.”

Since being identified as a Nazi, he has received death threats, and has been followed out of bars for his white supremacy beliefs.

Pete Tefft – photo by C.S. Hagen

“I’m a pro-white activist,” Tefft said. “Nazi is a racial pejorative, kinda like our N-word. If you want to be real, myself, a pro-white activist, maybe some National Socialists and other pro-white organizations, typically have been the only ones willing to stand forward to protect the freedoms of everyone on the right.”

So far, his beliefs and followers have had little more than an online presence. Two days before the rally, an advertisement appeared on Facebook entitled “Anti-white Speech Discussion,” organized by Hal Resnick, which was scheduled for the same time. 

Resnick is listed as the new unit leader for the Nazi party, or Nationalist Socialist Movement of North Dakota, according to the Nationalist Socialist Magazine, or NSM88. The numerals stand for the letter H, short for “Heil Hitler.”

Tefft was hoping for more people to attend the rally, he said. The North Dakota United Against Hate Facebook page had more than 700 people interested in going, and nearly 350 going to the event. Due to the rain, approximately 200 people showed, Fargo Police Cultural Liaison Officer Vince Kempf said.

Tefft plans to hold his own rally soon, he said. “I want to bring awareness to a lot of these issues and the only way to do it is out in the public square.”

One of his upcoming rally’s intentions is to show that mass immigration into North Dakota is an anti-white policy, he said.

“We’re expected to foot the bill and not ask any questions,” Tefft said.

Fargo City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn’s controversial proposal last fall into investigating the costs behind refugees in Fargo is not enough, Tefft said. He called Piepkorn an “economic fetishist,” concerned primarily with financial statistics and not with white civil rights and anti-white policies.

James Bergman and Pete Tefft at the North Dakota United Against Hate rally – photo by C.S. Hagen

The investigation has sparked numerous protests, including an attempt to force Pipekorn to step down.

An organizer of Wednesday’s event, Michelle Ridz, of the High Plains Fair Housing Center, told those gathered to join the fight against hate crime on Facebook, where future incidents can be reported, and a task force would soon be formed to deal with such acts.

More than 30 percent of hate crimes occur near the home, Ridz said.

“What is more unsettling is being targeted in your own home?” Ridz said.

Most hate crimes are not reported, but victims can find recourse through the Federal Fair Housing Act, she said.

Reverend Michelle Webber, pastor of the First Congregational UCC Church in Moorhead, said once she saw the rains coming, she thought about staying home.

Musa B Bajaber speaking at the North Dakota United Against Hate rally – photo by C.S. Hagen

“It sure would be nice to stay in my living room, but then I thought, people who experience hate speech and hate violence don’t get to choose when it’s convenient for them,” Webber said.

“Speaking against hate, wet from the rain, is a privilege.”

Fargo City Commissioner John Strand said growing up in the North Dakota countryside offered him a perspective Fargoan can practice to begin understanding each other.

“My suggestion to all of us in our community is that we wave at each other, we greet each other, we genuinely ask how are you doing today when we see other people,” Strand said. “We mean it, we just don’t do it for the sake of, but you act, and engage and you learn from each other.”

Many of the speakers referred to the Walmart parking lot incident where a white woman, Amber Hensley, yelled at three Muslim women, “we are going to kill you all.”

“A simple story of anger and hate that turned into forgiveness,” Musa B Bajaber said of the incident. “I am sure that Amber did get emails and messages from idiots who said they got her back, and I am sure that Sarah and Layela were asked to push further and never to budge. But all three disappointed those who wanted to see an escalation, and we should salute them for that.

“People of Fargo and Moorhead through the experience we have been through and the happy ending to it, we put a dent on the hateful rhetoric that is sweeping the United States,” Bajaber said.

“Hate crime is not just emotional and instilling fear in the community,” Barry Nelson of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition said. “It also has dramatic economic impacts on the people who have been affected.” Two people in recent years who were the victims of hate crimes can no longer work, Nelson said, and need help.

Fargo City Commissioner John Strand speaking – photo by C.S. Hagen

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney, whose message was read by Strand, said the city and the state have no choice but to grow.

“The Fargo I know is a city that celebrates and promotes diversity, all while preserving and respecting our citizens’ safety and dignity,” Mahoney said. “We must commit ourselves to resist hate and violence in all forms. We need to agree that fellow citizens sometimes may need a hand up, and not a hand down. We also need to realize that someday, due to circumstances beyond our control, we could become refugees. It could happen to any one of us, and how would we want to be treated.”

“We need to support victims of hate crimes and send a strong message that this behavior has zero tolerance here.”

“Those of us who have been here so long we never talked about it [hate crimes],” Fowzia Adde, executive director of the Immigrant Development Center, said. “It’s better for us to talk about it now, or our community will not grow. We want to hold hands. We want our children to have a future, here.”

































Hate Crime Law Discussion Sparks Fierce Debate

Call for disguised Nazis to counter anti-hate rally, verbal punches thrown in mainstream editorials  

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO – Moments before Makruun Hagar lost his nose, he tried to settle a domestic fight between a married couple, which began in the back of his taxi cab.

But when he intervened, he said he was called racial slurs, and then Dominque Martinez attacked — punching his head then biting off his nose, permanently disfiguring him.

A struggle with police later ensued, but not before Martinez’s wife was struck and bit as well, the West Fargo Police Department’s incident report stated.

Police reports indicate Hagar might have saved the woman’s life.

“She was pretty sure that if she had not had help that Dominque would have more than likely have killed her that night,” West Fargo Police Detective Greg Warren stated in the police report.

Makruun Hagar – photo by C.S. Hagen

The incident was labelled as an assault case, and Martinez was later found not criminally responsible in August 2015 by a Cass County judge, because he suffered from PTSD after duty with Marines in Afghanistan. He was remanded to the custody of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center for five years, according to court documents.

Nearly three years later, Hagar’s nose has healed, but a dark brown patch stands as a stark testimony to the assault. He keeps the bloodstained t-shirt he wore that day in November 2014 close, as a constant reminder of hate, and as a warning to his five young children.

“He brought a lot of problems for me and my family,” Hagar said. “Nobody can help, doctors can’t do anything anymore.”

In the winter months, he has difficulty breathing. He’s still on medication, but the long term effects aren’t just physical.

“Everyday, when I pick up people, sometimes people ask me about my religion, and then they ask if I’m a terrorist,” Hagar, who escaped the wars and famine in Somalia in 2005, said. “If someone bit my nose, and if I was white, the community would help.”

Days after a local white woman, Amber Elizabeth Hensley, threatened to kill all Muslims in a Walmart parking lot while being filmed, the incident was swept under the rug after apologies were made. But rising local civil rights leader, Hukun Abdullahi, founder of the Afro American Development Association, spoke before the Fargo City Commissioners meeting this week saying that city leaders were partly responsible for the recent uptick in hate-related crimes: five incidents so far in 2017.

(left to right) Rowda Soyan, Sarah and Laleyla Hassan prepare to speak about their encounter with racism at the local Walmart – photo by C.S. Hagen

“Time has come to address the elephant in the room,” Abdullahi said. “As much as me and my organization have tried to bolster confidence among refugees and immigrants and have focused on integration efforts and unity over the months, we have started realizing it has just been a one-way process. The state and the city asking for how much it cost to have refugees in the communities, while is a sensible question from the financial standpoint, it has negatively impacted our image in the community, and might also have increased the number of hostile incidents geared towards refugees.”

Hagar, like many new Americans who have settled in the Fargo area in recent years, is black skinned, and speaks with an accent. He is different from the predominantly white community North Dakota has fostered since its inception in 1889.

Some in Fargo, don’t like the change, and think inquiries into costs behind refugees, initiated by Fargo City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn, are warranted. A battle of words ensued.

“Abdullahi has branded perfectly legitimate inquiry into public policy as tantamount to inciting racially-motivated incidents,” Rob Port, The Forum editorialist of Say Anything Blog said. “That’s not something a person interested in comity and sound public policy does.”

When confronted about the editorial as race baiting by Kade Ferris, social media director for Unity-USA, Port denied the claim on  Facebook.

“No. Just not willing to let a rank opportunist sideline an important debate,” Port said.

“So you do this by being a rank opportunist yourself?” Ferris said.

“No more anti-white speech,” Fargoan Pete Tefft, wrote on his Facebook page. Tefft was identified by Fargo resident Luke Safely as a Nazi sympathizer in February after an incident with a lone pickup truck waving a Confederate flag cruised Broadway.

“We should fight rhetoric with rhetoric,” Tefft said in a Facebook post. “The ‘refugee’ resettlement program is anti-white policy. Multiculturalism to this degree will never work unless draconian laws are passed. Policies that hinder birth rate[s] of one group (the major ethnic group), and strengthen another is the definitely [definition] of genocide.”

On the Daily Stormer website, Tefft, who also goes by the name Chad Radkersburg, said Hensley did nothing wrong, and that he is planning on speaking out.

“Rally to support her is planned. Working on meeting organizer. She is no Chad, so she cucked and apologized.”

Mike McFeely, a radio personality and editorialist for The Forum, took the first shot on July 27 saying North Dakota Nice is more like North Dakota Nasty.

“The Band-Aid started to be peeled back a few years ago when some in the media began to target refugees and immigrants as a problem and, with Facebook and talk radio at our disposal, we began to hear some of the ugliness that previously hadn’t crawled out from under the rocks,” McFeely wrote. “More recently, a city commissioner and a county commissioner began to question the cost of refugees to the almighty taxpayer—hey, they were just innocently asking questions and most certainly not playing to a base of racists and xenophobes—and the warts were exposed some more.”

Nazis called to Fargo
For a few minutes early Monday morning, an advertisement appeared on Facebook entitled “Anti-white Speech Discussion,” organized by Hal Resnick, scheduled for August 2, at 5:29 p.m., at the Fargo Civic Center, which coincides with the North Dakota United Against Hate rally.

Resnick is listed as the new unit leader for the Nazi party, or Nationalist Socialist Movement of North Dakota, according to the Nationalist Socialist Magazine, or NSM88. The numerals stand for the letter H, short for “Heil Hitler.”

The advertisement was quickly taken down, but during the few minutes it was online, it attracted at least 12 people who identified with “white identity,” and “civil rights.”

A description for the event sponsored by the Flyovers, FEHU, and the National Socialist Movement of North Dakota, condemned anti-white speech, calling civil rights workers today as guilty participants in white genocide.

The Flyovers short-lived logo while advertising to counter rally August 2 rally against hate crime

“All attendees are encouraged to come incognito,” the description reported. “In the last few months it has become increasingly clear that any and all pro-diversity, pro-refugee, pro-hate speech laws is [are] implicitly anti white. Pro-diversity speech to many people means less white people.”

Pro-hate speech was linked to thought policing, for which there are laws called conspiracy laws, the description continued. “Passing policies that lower birth rates and negatively affect the majority ethnic group for the interests of another group is classified as genocide. Pro-white speech is not hate speech. Censoring pro-white speech is a civil and human rights violation.”

The organizations involved pinpointed the need to show support for recent victims, to ensure no one is singled out because of race, religion, but also called attention to the need to bring awareness for “white rights.” Organizers also called on state and federal agencies to investigate recent incidents of anti-white policies and crimes of conspiracy and for those found offending to be brought up on crimes against humanity and conspiracy to commit ethnic genocide.

“Attempts to silence us will be seen as admittance of guilt to our charges,” the description reported. “We call upon Fargo leaders to vow to uphold free speech laws to further discuss these issues and to denounce ‘hate speech law advocates’ as anti-American.”

In February, posters were stapled to telephone poles around the downtown area promoting white power, and were reportedly sponsored by “The Flyovers,” which depicted the communist hammer and sickle, the Jewish star, a syringe, and a marijuana leaf as rain falling on a family under an umbrella emblazoned with a symbol reminiscent of a swastika. Other posters were reportedly supported by VDare, Counter-Currents, American Renaissance, The Right Stuff, Redice.TV, and The Occidental Observer, all of whom are listed as nationalistic and racial purist hate organizations.

The Flyovers is a reference to the areas usually looked over by national politics, or the flyover states, and their support for Trump and predominantly white heritage, according to Unity-USA, a nonprofit hate watch organization.

City challenged on hate
“This has been a very trying week for the Fargo-Moorhead community, following the incident of Islamophobia which took place at the Fargo Walmart,” Ferris said. “The fact that there could be an amicable resolution to this sad event gives us hope. However, we cannot overlook the fact that this event is just a real-world manifestation of racist and prejudicial feelings that are bubbling beneath the surface here in this community.”

Ferris defended Abdullahi’s speech before the Fargo City Commissioners, saying current laws or lack thereof, the mainstream media, and certain city leaders have guided the tension to a boiling point.

“When local politicians publicly vilify entire groups, such as the growing immigrant population, to score cheap points in their upcoming election, or when local media personalities post leading and biased news stories to drum up ratings, it can only end in a case such as this,” Ferris said. “Just look at any story about immigrants on some of our local news outlets. Go to the comment section to get a sense of the real feelings of some of the people out there. The words of Amber Hensley are pretty much par for the course for many who haunt these stories for a chance to spew their own nativist and prejudiced bile.”

“In the past year, North Dakota has become the laughing stock of the global community, Andrea Denault, legislative coordinator with North Dakota Human Rights Coalition, said. “Our cartoonish militarized response to unarmed water protectors at Standing Rock, recent FBI statistics revealing we are second in the nation for hate crimes, and now viral videos recording xenophobic hate speech from a Fargo parking lot, there is no hiding. We have earned a reputation for ourselves.”

Fargo City Commissioner John Strand asked Abdullahi to speak before the city commissioners’ meeting, saying that it’s no secret that the diversity issue has been an important one for the city for the past year. Days before the Walmart incident occurred, the Human Relations Commission was discussing how the city would move forward when confronted with hate crimes and hate speech, Strand said.

“Who would have thought the next day that the community would be challenged with something of that nature that really put Fargo on the map in a way that is not very much what we would like to see,” Strand said.

“We’ve had an interesting week,” Mayor Tim Mahoney said. “We really need to look at hate crime legislation in our state.”

Barry Nelson, of the Human Relations Commission and of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition, asked the question is there more hate crime in Fargo now, or are people reporting more? North Dakota ranks second in the nation for hate crime incidents, he said.

“Are we a community in a position to respond appropriately?” Nelson said before the city commissioners meeting. “Is the crime being charged out appropriately? Is our judicial system in a position to make sure that justice is being served? I do have some serious questions about all of these aspects. Is any level of hate crime and hate speech acceptable in our community?”

To combat hate crime, laws must be in place, Nelson said. North Dakota does not recognize hate crimes, citing that state legislation already protects victims of assault.

Nelson cited an example of hate crime, an assault on a refugee while moving into an apartment, in which one of the perpetrators was released from jail and fined $250.

Education and hate crime laws are the answers to combat hate crime, Nelson said.

Chair of the Human Relations Commission, Rachel Hoffman, and Nelson said the rally on Wednesday was meant to raise awareness about hate crime, help raise financial support for victims, such as Hagar, and to once again put hate crime legislation on the state’s agenda.

“The Walmart incident is an example of what is wrong with our community,” Abdullahi said. “Ethnic communities like ours are losing our battles to integrate communities and no help appears on the horizon. Fear, anger, superiority, religion, differences, hostile media- all these negatives have consumed people, and sadly, it is a shame that the city has basically stayed quiet.”

“If we are to move forward as a community we need to make sure to stand up whenever we hear or see discrimination of any sort,” Ferris said. “For a long time, North Dakota nice has been putting on a smile for the public and pretend to be welcoming, while holding tight-lipped deep feelings of passive-aggressiveness and prejudice for fear of insulting our neighbors and publicly humiliating ourselves.  However, since the last election cycle, such niceness has gone out the window. We need to reclaim nice. We need to make it mean something. It cannot just be words. It must be action, and it is the responsibility of everyone.”

Denault said that the year-long investigation into the costs of refugees is inappropriate.

“I don’t often like to talk about ‘just the numbers’ though because these are people who are more than just a unit of labor,” Denault said. “They are human beings fighting for their lives.”

“We live in an agricultural state,” Denault said. “Think of how many farmers are receiving farm subsidies. You don’t see anyone accosting them at Walmart and threatening to kill them. It would be preposterous. The same goes for these random acts of racism towards Natives and New Americans. The xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, it all comes from fundamentally misguided notions about other groups of people, particularly the misinformation about how much these groups ‘cost’ us.”

“When you get to know a lot of the members of the New American community you’ll realize that they are not just refugees. Many of them are second and third generation North Dakotans, people whose parents, after obtaining legal U.S. citizenship, still decided to stay in North Dakota because they love it here. They’ve opened businesses, bought homes, they are paying taxes. They are literally contributing to the economy in the exact same way everyone else is. None of them deserve this type of treatment.”

The North Dakota United Against Hate rally is scheduled for Wednesday, August 2, at 5:30 p.m. by the Fargo Civic Center.


Forgive, but let’s not forget

Women in death threat dispute meet and reconcile

By C.S. Hagen
– Two of the three Somali-American women threatened with murder two days ago by a white woman outside a local Walmart, met their attacker Thursday afternoon at the Fargo Police Department, and left in friendship.

“We hugged her, we cried,” Sarah Hassan, one of the victims, said. “I love her.”

On Tuesday evening Amber Elizabeth Hensley was filmed through 15-second WeChat video clips threatening the Hassan sisters and Rowda Soyan around 5:30pm.

The Hassan sisters accompany police officers to a scheduled meeting with their attacker – photo by C.S. Hagen

Leyla admittedly parked too close to Hensley’s blue Honda, and the incident led to Hensley threatening all three Muslim women, wearing hijabs, with death.

On Thursday, however, tempers had cooled after a firestorm of commentary on social media.

“We brought people together and they met each other,” Fargo Police Cultural Liaison Officer Vince Kempf said after the 90-minute meeting. “Relationship building, there was forgiveness and quite possible friendship at the end of the meeting.”

Both Sarah and her sister Leyla have been in Fargo nearly three years, and speak near-perfect English. They wear hijabs, and are Somalis from India originally. Both said Hensley’s apology was genuine, and that they have been invited to her house for Christmas.

“It feels good, to be honest,” Leyla said after the meeting.

“She’s a nice person,” Sarah said. “She had the idea that all Muslims are bad. We just talked about peace.”

“I think things went too far,” Leyla said. After the meeting, both Fargo women wanted to go immediately to Horab & Wentz, CPA, Hensley’s former place of work, to ask the owners to give Hensley’s job back. Hensley was fired Wednesday, one day after the hate crime was committed.

Horab & Wentz owner and CPA, Scott Wentz, said his accounting firm received hundreds of emails and calls from around the world.

Charges could have been filed against Hensley, Kempf said. With the city dealing with five hate crimes halfway through 2017, mediation and forgiveness was the better route.

“Unfortunately, incidents like what happened this week and the social media commentary following it can cause further division and set us back from progress we are trying to make as a community,” Fargo Police Chief David Todd said.

“I want to put before you an example of what can be accomplished even though mistakes were made and unfortunate words were said. Amber Hensley, Sarah Hassan and Leyla Hassan have all expressed regret regarding their interaction and language with each other.”

The women met, talked through the incident, and regrets were voiced from all sides. Forgiveness followed, Todd said.

Hukun Abdullahi, founder of Afro American Development Association, spent much of the afternoon assisting the peace process. He spoke with Hensley’s former bosses and asked for her job back as well. So far, the owners have declined, Abdullahi said.

The Hassan sister leave meeting – photo by C.S. Hagen

“Everybody can make a mistake,” Abdullahi said. “I am very happy she came out and apologized for what she did to the victims. As a community, anything can happen, but we can get together to bring a better solution.”

While Abdullahi was busy helping the Hassan sisters, he received two hateful messages.

“Come to this country, follow our values,” a man named Adam White said in a message to Abdhullahi. “Or you can go back to where you come from.”

Another message written by a man named Lamar Avery, who used a picture of Adolf Hitler as his avatar, told Abdullahi a similar message. “Maybe you should go back to the country where you came from bitch, Americans don’t cater to Muslim terrorist scum.”

“We have some ugliness in our community that needs to be addressed and worked on,” Todd said. “Social media shows us that, however, perhaps we can all take a lesson from what was an ugly unfortunate interaction and how even despite words being said that cannot be taken back, forgiveness and understanding can still be achieved.”

Fargo City Commissioner John Strand, who has put the issue of hate crimes on the next city council agenda, was elated by the news both sides had reconciled.

“If everybody on all fronts can strive to get as much as possible to the higher ground and to see things in the bigger picture and go forward in a way where we undoubtedly become a better community because of it, that’s what we’re aiming for,” Strand said.

“These little steps really add up, and it’s up to all of us which steps we take and I hope we make the best choices possible.”

TigerSwan’s Troubles

Open records request info: disregard for state laws, citizens, and property

By C.S. Hagen
MANDAN – Trouble followed TigerSwan everywhere the security company went in the Peace Garden State.

Tasked with the mission to protect the Dakota Access Pipeline by Energy Transfer Partners, TigerSwan stepped into a messy scene — chaotic — but the well oiled former Army Delta Force-led security machine went straight to work, starting at the local airport.

Records obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that the security company signed leases not with Mandan Municipal Airport’s Authority, but with companies the airport leased to — which was a breach of contract.

Rectifying the issue was complicated, airport authorities said, and wasn’t cleared up until shortly before TigerSwan left North Dakota earlier this month, nearly a year after their arrival.

Before TigerSwan’s arrival, police were driven back repeatedly from front lines. Former Governor Jack Dalrymple declared an emergency state to seek federal funds and to bring in the North Dakota National Guard. Activists chaining themselves to sleeping tar dragons stopped pipeline construction, daily. Arrests hovered around 29. Days later, Ohio-based Frost Kennels employees were siccing attack dogs on activists defending water and land rights. Other security companies, some without proper licenses, also wanted a piece of Energy Transfer Partners protection budget. Morton County couldn’t keep up with the activists surging into the camps, which at its height became the state’s tenth largest community.

But it was TigerSwan that was chosen for the “fusion lead.” The international security company, known as a mercenary-for-hire agency with government contracts around the world, coordinated security companies such as Bismarck’s 10 Code Security, EH Investigations and Security, LLC, and Leighton Security Services, from Texas. They inserted their own liaison into the law enforcement’s “Joint Operation Command,” thereby fusing private and public intelligence operations, according to documents released by The Intercept.

“There were four different security companies involved,” Mandan Municipal Airport Authority Chairman Mike Wagner said. “And we lumped them into one and called them DAPL Security.”

TigerSwan, EH Investigations and Security, LLC, and Leighton Security Services, Inc., are all named in a civil lawsuit filed by the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board for working illegally in the state.

Activists tackled by DAPL Security

Additional law enforcement, the North Dakota National Guard, and TigerSwan’s arrival dramatically shifted the prairies into what was called a war zone by United Nations Chief Edward John. Organized police phalanxes began marching down Highway 1806. Law enforcement lines became impregnable, twisted with razor wire, cement blocks, and bolstered with water cannons and long range acoustic weapons. Helicopters flew like locusts, and never truly left.

DAPL Security came in wearing khakis and bulletproof vests. Lip sweaters and chin curtains painstakingly frayed as urban lumbersexuals, they stampeded into the Dakota plains in 4×4 pickup trucks and all-terrain vehicles.

Private security personnel outside of Standing Rock near DAPL – online sources

They roamed the rolling hills freely, backed by law enforcement, tackling those who strayed too far on lands once owned by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Activists practicing free speech became terrorists, jihadists, and the propaganda was disseminated to big-oil-trusted mainstream media outlets across the state, such as the Scott Hennen Show on AM 1100 “The Flag,” Rob Port’s “Say Anything Blog” owned by Forum Communications Company, and TigerSwan’s propaganda arm, Netizens for Progress and Justice, which according to its website is a “countering the leftist media propaganda nightmare” media outlet.

TigerSwan also “attempted to place undercover private security agents within the protest group to carry out investigative and surveillance activities against these groups on behalf of Energy Transfer Partner and others,” the civil lawsuit states. Security teams monitored vehicles, gathered intelligence, provided “around the clock protection” and security for the “resumption of construction” of the Dakota Access Pipeline, according to the civil lawsuit.

Where eagles and vultures once ruled, DAPL Security covered the skies using Double M Helicopters, testing software, spying on activists with long-range lenses.

Two months after TigerSwan’s arrival, arrests jumped to 410.

 According to the civil action filings filed by the governor-appointed private security board, TigerSwan ignored warnings saying they were working only as consultants. In response to  the lawsuit, a TigerSwan representative identified as TS Press said this week via email that “we were not providing security, but consulting services.”

DAPL Security’s arrival at the Mandan Municipal Airport set management on edge. Clear Sky Aviation, Inc. was under a 20-year contract with the airport authority, a contract signed on November 1, 2012, stipulating the company, which according to its website is managed by Double M Helicopters, did not have the authority to sublease.

The stated purpose of the lease was for Clear Sky to “use the premises solely for regular airport and aviation business purposes, including, but not limited to, aircraft charter or rental, aircraft repairs and maintenance, major or minor, aircraft sales, aircraft flight instructions,” according to the contract.

But Clear Sky Aviation violated its lease when it subleased a part of a hangar to TigerSwan’s John Porter, Energy Transfer Partner’s chief security advisor, according to airport records.

“On August 26, 2016, without the prior written approval of MAA, Clear Skies entered into a lease agreement with ‘DAPL Security,’” the Mandan Airport Authority reported.

The Mandan Municipal Airport also signed a 20-year lease with Mandan Aviation, LLC, on October 17, 2012, and on September 2016 struck an oral sublease agreement with TigerSwan, breaking section 21 of the original lease agreement, according to an April 23 letter written to owner David Barth from Wagner. Mandan Aviation subleased office space in the upper level of the south end of the Mandan Aviation hangar, according to a consent to sublease contract.

The subleases not only violated contracts, they put the airport’s future in jeopardy. Airport land and buildings can only be used for aeronautical purposes, according to airport authorities. Any additional use must be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Mandan Municipal Airport is publicly owned, and is a part of the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems, which allows the airport to receive federal grants under the Airport Improvement Program. The airport’s grants came into question when TigerSwan arrived, as according to Federal Aviation Administration regulations Airport Compliance Program all airport property must be available for aeronautical use, and not available for non-aeronautical purposes unless approved by the FAA.

Clear Sky Aviation, Inc. was established on June 22, 2012, and is registered to Cindy Becker; Double M Helicopters was registered on September 3, 2009 to Monte Myers, and Mandan Aviation, LLC was registered on June 14, 2006 to Barth, according to North Dakota Secretary of State records. No records exist for Clear Skies Aviation in the North Dakota Secretary of State.

According to emails, contracts, and recorded meeting minutes obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request, airport management pondered whether or not to kick DAPL Security out of the airport, or to require payments from the companies involved if the airport lost federal grant monies needed for a perimeter fence next year. If FAA permission was not granted, the airport stood to lose upwards of $2 million, airport records state.

Although DAPL Security entered the airport after county, state, and federal law enforcement set up a headquarters, TigerSwan stayed after law enforcement left, posting guards and interfering with air traffic and personnel, according to airport records.

“You can’t get answers. They won’t talk,” Mandan Municipal Airport Manager Jim Lawler wrote in an email on October 27. “I would like to see them gone.”  

Wagner pointed out the issues in a response to Lawler’s email.

“There are a couple of things affecting the airport wastewater system, parking, driving on the airside, parking equipment on the airside without permission, complaints from users of feeling intimidated when entering the airport and living at the airport,” Wagner said. “They continue to guard the entrance. Would we be a target if they weren’t here, and are we a target after they leave?”

“Also, no contact from the people that promised to be in my office everyday,” Wagner wrote. “Just because they are chartering the helicopters is not a reason to allow use of office space and living quarters to non-aviation businesses. All of this is also part of the grant assurances which we sign as part of the FAA AIP funding, and could jeopardize that funding.”

TigerSwan operatives left messes behind, documents report. Bathrooms weren’t cleaned. Septic tanks were filled. Six chairs went missing.

“In a general sense it was them becoming acclimated to being on airport property,” Wagner said. “I think a lot of it was misunderstanding. As soon as they were instructed, they were good about correcting it.”

Nearly three months after TigerSwan arrived, negotiations began over lease pricing, and the issue came up during the airport authority’s board meeting on November 21, 2016. The Mandan Municipal Airport Authority decided to first obtain FAA approval, develop a security plan, a code of conduct, and then charge a fair market rate, not aeronautical rates, which are cheaper.

Later that same night, while law enforcement sprayed hundreds of activists with a water cannon in freezing temperatures, Myers, owner of Double M Helicopters, was still attempting to obtain signed sublease agreements from TigerSwan, according to a November 22, 2016 email.

The morning after, TigerSwan director, Al Ornoski, congratulated a list of people ranging from TigerSwan operatives, airport and Fusion Center personnel, 10 Code Security, and others.

“Outstanding job, thanks to everyone for your dedication, support and work during last night’s critical event,” Ornoski wrote.

Three days after the “critical event,” Myers wrote Lawler an email, which included the sublease agreement.

“I think the one point that was missed on this whole deal at the board meeting was the end result of all this is the Mandan Airport now has 24-hour security at no cost to the airport itself,” Myers wrote. “Without a security fence and some sort of restricted access gate, all are extremely vulnerable at the Mandan Municipal Airport. With the situation as it is in Morton County, this seems a win/win for the airport.”

Private security personnel along pipeline route – online sources

Myers also reported that activists used the FAA database to determine owners of the airplanes involved against the Standing Rock camps, and that he was being threatened.

“Don’t believe much of what you read on Facebook, or some of these other publications. The comments about tail numbers, using the helicopters as weapons, dropping objects on them, spraying them with mustard gas, flying over them at night with all our lights off and spraying them with pesticides is obviously crazy.”

True reports included a Double M Helicopter herding more than 200 buffalo away from police lines, and activists shooting at helicopters with arrows, or flying drones toward them, according to Myers.

“The helicopter was a very effective tool to direct the buffalo back into the pasture that the protesters had knocked the fence down earlier that day,” Myers said.

After Myers’ email, the Mandan Municipal Airport Authority became worried about their own safety, asking if TigerSwan, had completed  a threat assessment of Mandan Airport.

Nearing Christmas, arrests jumped again to 571.

The leasing dispute lasted more than nine months, until an April 3 airport executive session meeting, when the board decided if FAA permission was not granted, then eviction notices would be sent out.

The issue became an ask for forgiveness or permission, and it was already too late to ask for permission. Airport authorities feared “potential adversarial administrative proceedings with the FAA,” which could “have an adverse fiscal effect on the bargaining or litigation position of MAA.”

“Beg for forgiveness [to the FAA] that we weren’t even aware of this, and now that we are, we’re trying to remedy,” Lawler said during the 30-minute board meeting. Breach of the original lease agreement “put the board in the awkward position of trying to figure out what our duties and obligations were as board members.”

In April, the airport authority agreed to proceed as if they had been approached before the sublease agreements were entered, rather than as a breach of the original lease, according to Wagner.

FAA Program Manager Donald Phillips was contacted by airport authority in April, approximately six weeks before TigerSwan left the state to continue protecting oil pipelines in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. On May 26, emails indicate that the FAA did not object to the temporary non-aeronautical use of airport property “during the DAPL protest.”

The reason the issue took more than nine months to resolve is because Mandan Municipal Airport has seen enormous change in the past few years, Wagner said. Airport authorities have been scrambling to study a 600-page FAA rulebook.

“It took some time to get up to speed and get educated,” Wagner said. “The FAA’s primary role in the whole thing was to make sure we weren’t going to violate grant assurances and that included making sure a non-aeronautical rate was applied rather than aeronautical.” Aeronautical rates are cheaper, Wagner said.

By the end of the leasing controversy, long after the last tents and trash were cleared from along the Cannonball River, airport authorities agreed to accepting 10 percent of all payments made by DAPL Security to the aeronautical companies. Mandan Aviation charged $1,300 a month, and Clear Sky Aviation received checks for their sublease agreements worth $35,000, of which $3,500 was to be given to the airport authority. On June 19, Lawler said he received a check for $2,100 from Clear Sky Aviation.

Official records indicate 761 people were arrested during the DAPL controversy, and already 114 cases have been dismissed by the state. Eleven people received guilty verdicts; 50 pled guilty – primarily on lesser charges, and three have been acquitted, according to the Water Protector Legal Collective. Numbers from the legal firm report a total of 854 people were arrested.

TigerSwan and Co. responses
Early morning, February 17, 2017, site security advisor for TigerSwan, Stuart Kortus, alerted airport authorities that he would be flying at 250 feet.

“I will be conducting a test flight to test new software,” Kortus said. “I will be near the field to the west between hangars and Highway 6.”

Kortus did not reply to requests for more information pertaining to what kinds of software TigerSwan was testing near Standing Rock.

A TigerSwan representative, identified only as TS Press, replied to a request for information, saying the claims made in official Mandan Municipal Airport documents were, in essence, fake news.

“Your questions are rooted in speculation and heresy [hearsay] and show that you seem interested in perpetuating the same false narratives about our work that have been manufactured by groups that seek to malign a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business,” TS Press stated in an email. “We appreciate your inquiry, but until you take a more objective view of the facts, we will not respond to your questions and will continue working with the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board to convey the realities of our work in North Dakota.”

A second email from TS Press stated that TigerSwan “never had a contract at the airport.”

Ornoski, listed as a director of DAPL Security ND, or TigerSwan, hung up the phone when contacted. Myers was contacted by telephone and email, messages were left, but Myers did not reply for comment.

When Barth of Mandan Aviation was contacted, he said the situation was complicated.

“We have attorneys involved, and what you may or may not write may or may not be the truth,” Barth said. “So, if I were you, I would just keep my nose out of it.”

“We’re Going To Kill All Of You” 

White woman threatens Somali-Americans outside of Walmart, fifth hate crime incident in 2017

By C.S. Hagen
– Three Fargoans, originally from Somalia, were stopped Tuesday evening outside of Walmart by a white woman from Mapleton and threatened while dozens of onlookers did nothing to intervene. 

The women who were verbally attacked, Rowda Soyan, Sarah and Laleyla Hassan, were enjoying a day off from work when a blonde woman approached. Before they could enter the store around 5:30 p.m., the incident began, and video footage started halfway through the exchange.  

Screenshot of white woman threatening Somali-Americans

“You’re a racist person, and I’m not going back to my country,” Soyan said in near-perfect English in the video. 

“I’m an American,” the white woman, who later commented on Facebook about the Youtube video, said. According to the post her name is Amber Elizabeth Hensley, and she worked for  Horab & Wentz, CPA.

“What are you going to do?” Soyan said. 

“We’re going to kill all of you, we’re going to kill every one of you fucking Muslims.”

“I am making a video and I am going to show it to the police,” Soyan said.

“Do you think the police care? Why are you in our country anyway?”

The incident marks the fifth such case this year, Hukun Abdullahi, co-founder of United African Youths, and founder of Afro American Development Association, said. 

“It is happening, and I think this must be stopped,” Abdullahi said. “I don’t see any leaders condemning this issue. This will keep continuing.”

During the incident, people entering and exiting the Walmart on 13th Avenue stopped to watch, but no one tried to help. 

“No one stood up for us, nobody even said a word, it was a scary moment for all of us,” Soyan said. “She went on and on, and it was really really scary. Out of nowhere, she just came and said those hateful words. It was an ‘Are you out of your mind’ moment?” 

Soyan called police, and a report was made under case number 17-61490. Fargo Police were contacted for comment, but were not available. 

License plate and car of the unidentified white woman – photo provided by Rowda Soyan

“Her car had a Trump sign, and she said he’s the one who is going to send us back to our country,” Soyan said. 

Hensley apologized for the “horrible things that I said to the two ladies at Walmart,” according to her Facebook post. “It was not a Christian-like thing to do at all, and wish I could take it back, but I lost my cool, and I can’t.” 

In the apology, Hensley said that the women parked too close to her car, and refused to move. 

“I asked her again and she swore at me, calling me a fat bitch, to that I informed her that I was a Christian and asked if she knew who Jesus was.” 

Tuesday’s incident wasn’t the first time Soyan has been attacked by racists. Her car was spray painted earlier in the year, and police did nothing to help, she said. Insurance wouldn’t cover the damages, so she had to pay out of pocket. 

Such attacks aren’t labelled as hate crimes in Fargo, as officially, hate crimes don’t exist, Barry Nelson, of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition, said. 

“I guess as far as North Dakota Human Rights Coalition, this is not what should be representing Fargo to other Fargoans,” Nelson said. “This is Fargo on Fargo crime, and it is unconscionable. We must keep exposing this so that we as a community work actively to eliminate this.

Amber Elizabeth Hensley’s apology on Facebook page

“This should not be happening to any of us.”

An assault on a Somali-American on July 2 in Fargo that is being investigated as a possible hate crime by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, was virtually swept under the rug, Nelson said. 

James Patrick Billiot, 32, Fargo, and Justin William Rifanburg, 28, West Fargo, assaulted Shuib Ali, who was moving into an apartment when the attack occurred after racial epithets were said, according to police reports. Nelson said the two men were charged with simple assault, a misdemeanor, and were fined $250 for their crime, and the victim was not alerted to the court case. 

“He found out a week later what happened,” Nelson said. “This happened at his home. I think police did what they could do, but I’m really questioning our judicial system. I don’t know if it’s a lack of awareness, of course, we don’t have any hate crime laws, and it doesn’t rise to a level of definition.” 

On August 2, North Dakota United Against Hate Crime is planning to hold a rally to generate support for victims of hate crime, and to start generating momentum behind getting a hate crime law passed — once again. Nelson made attempts ten years ago with the state legislature for a legal recognition of hate crimes, but his efforts went nowhere, he said.

“The response in the legislature was that we have laws that cover these things, but they don’t understand the layers of hate crime,” Nelson said. 


DAPL cases dropped by state in record numbers

Defense lawyers: TigerSwan infiltration and police entrapment should be recognized by courts

By C.S. Hagen
MANDAN – After being handcuffed, forced to strip, locked in dog cages, and hauled to jails across the state, hundreds charged with crimes during the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy are finding vindication through North Dakota’s court system.

Officially, 761 people were arrested during the months-long opposition to the 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline, and already 114 cases have been dismissed by the state. Eleven people received guilty verdicts; 50 pled guilty – primarily on lesser charges, and three have been acquitted.

The state cannot meet the elements of offenses as charged, defense lawyers say.

“In an attempt to extract guilty pleas, the state is waiting to dismiss each case until the last minute before trial, which has created great hardship and uncertainty for many water protectors,” Water Protector Legal Collective attorney Jacob Reisberg said in a press release. “The No-DAPL water protectors withstood extreme violence from militarized police at Standing Rock and now the state admits that it cannot substantiate the alleged justification for that violence.”

While the Morton County Sheriff’s Department reported 761 people were arrested, the Water Protectors Legal Collective reports the actual number is higher: 854.  

A total of 552 cases remain open, Water Protectors Legal Collective staff attorney Andrea Carter said. Last weekend, one of activists involved in arguably one of the most controversial cases also had charges against him dropped.

Less than a week after former Leighton Security Services project manager Kyle Thompson went live on Digital Smoke Signals to speak about his experience working security along the Dakota Access Pipeline route, the state dropped charges against Brennon Nastacio, charged with a Class C felony of terrorism.

Nastacio, 36, a Pueblo Native American nicknamed “Bravo One,” was charged for his participation in stopping Thompson, who wielded a semi-automatic AR-15, on October 27, 2016.

On June 14, Assistant State’s Attorney Gabrielle Goter of Morton County filed a motion to dismiss the charge, which came days before the scheduled deposition of North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Scott Betz, who was instrumental in Nastacio’s prosecution. Depositions were also scheduled for two FBI agents involved in the transfer of Thompson for BIA custody to the Morton County Jail, and for Thompson, according to Nastacio’s lawyers Bruce Nestor and Jeffrey Haas.

“This was a case where Mr. Nastacio acted to protect himself and others,” Nestor and Haas said. “He should have been thanked and not prosecuted for his bravery.”

“The feeling is good,” Nastacio said. “Now I just need to concentrate on my other case.”

Nastacio was indicted on February 8 on federal charges of civil disorder and use of fire to commit a federal crime, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of North Dakota.

Michael Fasig and Israel Hernandez also face felony charges over the same incident. Class C terrorizing charges carry up to a five-year prison sentence.

Myron Dewey, “Strong Thinker,” Paiute Shoshone – wet plate by Shane Balkowitsch

Other salient cases include the state dropping charges against drone operator and owner of Digital Smoke Signals, Myron Dewey, and rap artist Aaron Sean Turgeon, also known as ‘Prolific the Rapper.’

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland recently agreed to the conditional release of Redfawn Fallis to a halfway house from where she’s being held in Rugby. Fallis’s arrest, which was filmed live, has become one of the movement’s most viewed recordings. Police say she discharged a handgun while being tackled by law enforcement. Officially, Fallis was charged with criminal possession of a firearm or ammunition by a previously convicted felon, according to the United States Attorney’s Office District of North Dakota.

Another reason the state is dropping cases en masse is because of evidence the camps were infiltrated by TigerSwan operatives, who were on a mission to “find, fix, and eliminate” pipeline opposition, according to Nastacio’s lawyers.

“TigerSwan worked closely with law enforcement to infiltrate the camps, produce pro-DAPL propaganda, and aid prosecutions. TigerSwan acted in a supervisory capacity over Leighton Security, Thompson’s employer.”

Aaron Sean Turgeon ‘Prolific the Rapper’ (right) – Facebook page

“As we’re learning that there was some kind of infiltration by either the FBI or TigerSwan, or both, we think it should become an issue in the cases that the state should have to prove that some of those people who were engaging in that kind of activity were law enforcement or infiltrators,” Carter said.

“That’s what is getting debated in a lot of these cases, is presence,” Carter said. “There are entrapment issues. Five or more people must be engaged in a riot. If you have one of those five as law enforcement or as an infiltrator, and the state is alleging that someone is setting fires or throwing stuff, what if one of the people present was an infiltrator, and everyone else at the demonstration was peaceful or sitting in prayer, and you have one person instigating who wasn’t even part of that group?”  

Bennon Nastacio – Facebook page

During standoffs along the frontlines, police also gave contradictory warnings. Activists were told to leave an area immediately, and then given a different order to pick up items or clean up an area before leaving, which resulted in many people becoming trapped, Carter said.

“They would say ‘go,’ and as people were running to their cars, police were tearing them out of their vehicles. It’s incredible the amount of force they were met with.”

Former City Attorney for Valley City, Russell Myhre, who is now practicing law privately at his office in Valley City, is defending four people against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“I have never seen delays like this,” Myhre, who has been practicing law for nearly half a century said. “Even in high profile cases, there was always this contact with prosecution and the court. Here, there appears to be no reason whatsoever, and I don’t know why they’re not dealing with speedy trials.”

The Dakota Access Pipeline controversy reminds Myhre of the Vietnam War era, he said, which polarized the nation instantly until the mid-1970s when the contention simmered and people began to realize that perhaps, the Vietnam War was not one of the nation’s brightest moments.

Red Fawn Fallis – online sources

“I think this Dakota Access Pipeline is tearing North Dakotans apart,” Myhre said. “North Dakota was a god-forgotten outpost in the United States for many years, but they have found out that maybe they have sold their soul to big oil, and maybe, there is a dark side to this, and they’re just now starting to realize this.”

The lack of speedy trials is a legal tactic defendants can consider, he said. “A trial is scheduled within 90 days after demand for a speedy trial. It could be thrown out by the trial court or appealed to the North Dakota Supreme Court, or it could be brought to federal court for denial of due process and the denial of a right for a speedy trial.”

There is potential that cases could be reopened and appealed, even if found guilty under North Dakota Century Code post-conviction relief laws, Myhre said. The law is a substitute for habeas corpus – after being convicted a defendant can come back in and allege their rights have been violated.

“I think the system is overwhelmed,” Myhre said. “One of the other things is that prosecutors and law enforcement are realizing this is not going the way they wanted it to. Not many are coming forward pleading guilty.”

And law enforcement records are lacking, he said. “Most of these officers did not write up personal reports, which is standard practice. Most of these officers did not write up anything, it was left to one officer in charge of writing things up for everyone.”

Money is another contributing aspect as to why cases are being dropped faster than hot potatoes. The state was denied reimbursement for the $38 million spent during the controversy by the federal government last week. Days later, Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access LLC, offered, once again, to pay the bill.

To compound the issues a federal judge ruled on July 16 that permits authorizing the pipeline to cross the Missouri River less than one mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation violated the tribe’s fishing rights, hunting rights, and environmental rights.

“There’s something funky going on in the background,” Myhre said. “And I just don’t know what it is. A lot of it may have to do with TigerSwan and the manipulation of the media. In North Dakota, unless you were a Native American or an extreme liberal, many people were anti protest.

“We’re living in strange times.”

Since the last Standing Rock camp was cleared in February, TigerSwan kept roving teams active in North Dakota until earlier this month. The security company left North Dakota last week, Energy Transfer Partners personnel reported. The security company hasn’t left the oil business, however, and has set up shops along the Mariner East 2 Pipeline, which runs through Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Mariner East is also owned by Energy Transfer Partners.

In November 2016, TigerSwan LLC obtained business licenses for the three states, according to state registration records, but its private security license is under review in Louisiana by the Louisiana State Board of Private Investigator Examiners. The Louisiana Secretary of State reports TigerSwan, LLC was established in Lafayette on June 1, 2017.

“It is worth exposing in a court of public opinion, this is who law enforcement is working with, and this is exactly who TigerSwan is, and do you want these cultural things perpetuated domestically?” Carter said. “They [TigerSwan] manufactured some of these instances, they didn’t like the surveillance. They just didn’t want to be under surveillance.”

Second DAPL whistleblower to testify

Former guard on life along the pipeline and why he is speaking out

By C.S. Hagen
– When Kyle Thompson decided to speak out against tactics used along the Dakota Access Pipeline, it wasn’t because of a change of heart.

“I’ve always tried to look out for the best interests of everyone,” said Thompson, the former program manager for Leighton Security Services, Inc. “Just because I did security for the pipeline, that doesn’t mean that I necessarily wanted the pipeline in the ground. I didn’t really have a view on the pipeline.”

He waited half a year to speak out because he didn’t want his name dragged through the mud any more than it has been in recent months.

“I figured it’s time now, and everyone’s court cases are coming up soon,” Thompson said. “Coming out now didn’t really give people a chance to discredit my side of things. I waited so long so that people couldn’t talk more shit about me. I knew once I came out, there were people on water protector side that hate me, and I get it. There’s a lot of people that got charged that were just trying to help each other out.”

Thompson, 30, took his first step on July 12 during a live feed with Myron Dewey, owner of Digital Smoke Signals, promising information pertaining to security work along the Dakota Access Pipeline. Less than a week after Thompson went live, the state dropped charges against Brennon Nastacio, the Pueblo Native American who was arrested for terrorizing after disarming Thompson while the security employee was en route to Standing Rock’s main camps.

Kyle Thompson (right) – Facebook page

Thompson was on his way to photograph burning trucks, he said, property he was charged to protect, when he was run off the road by another vehicle. He fled, AR-15 in hand, toward a nearby pond where Nastacio and two others approached him.

“It was just me out there, I was by myself,” Thompson said. “He did go overboard a little bit, he had his knife out, and I had my gun on him, I had it out because all these people were coming down on me. I didn’t know what to do, I guess, I did what I had to do to keep everyone back then and there. I’m not necessarily doing this for him personally, I’m just doing it because I don’t believe he should have a felony charge for what he did.

“In his mind he was looking out for the best interest of the people. I’m glad his charges got dropped.”

The decision to speak out was not taken lightly, he said.

“I hate to say I’m coming out, I’m not out for everyone,” Thompson said. “There were some protesters that were aggressive, antagonistic; there were people on both sides doing it. Tensions were high. There are two sides to it: Pro-DAPL and No-DAPL. And if you’re going to be out there, people expect you to be on one side or the other.”

A friend introduced Thompson to the security company in August 2016, and when he began working, TigerSwan was already firmly in command of all security companies involved. TigerSwan operatives led the daily briefings, which were attended by law enforcement, and coordinated intelligence reports.

Soon after he began working for Leighton Security Services, Thompson met Kourtni Dockter, who became a security employee with EH Investigations, and became the first former security worker to blow the whistle on TigerSwan’s illegal activity on June 8.

As a former veteran, serving three tours in the Middle East, Thompson received an honorable discharge in 2013 as a sergeant. He’s also a recipient of the Purple Heart, and he never expected to come back home safely.

“I made it my personal mission to ensure that everyone made it home before I did,” Thompson said. “However, that wasn’t always the case. I always felt I was well prepared, mentally and physically, to do whatever needed to be done to look out for everyone around me.

“The only thing that was difficult for me was having to witness the families of those who never made it back.”

Once, he had to return a friend’s wedding band to family, his friend’s wife, after he was taken off life support in Germany, he said.

Native Americans call Thompson War Eagle, for being a veteran and a warrior. While working security, coworkers called him “DAPL Apple,” for being part Lakota Sioux, or “red on the outside and white on the inside,” he said.

Thompson and Dockter broke up shortly after he was arrested on domestic abuse and drug paraphernalia charges last April. He also quit his job with Leighton Security Services the same month. For approximately three more months, Thompson and Dockter remained apart, but recently patched their relationship, admitting drugs had no more room in their relationship.

“She does mean the world to me,” Thompson said. “I’d do anything for her.”

The couple isn’t in hiding any longer, but Thompson is taking extra precautions to make sure they’re safe.

“Hopefully more of these charges will get dropped,” Thompson said. “So it will prove that I’m not out for anyone. I’m not trying to go against security or law enforcement, I’m not trying to go against the protectors, I’m just trying to do the right thing for the right people.”

While working along the pipeline route, Thompson’s main goal, just as it was during tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, was to look out for everyone involved, he said. “My personal mission was to look out for people in general. I wasn’t really scared. I was more worried about our guys getting surrounded, or overtaken by protesters. I didn’t know the reality of the threat out there, I was more worried about the guys under me.”

Thompson had at least two-dozen employees he oversaw, he said. Never once did he train with TigerSwan or the North Dakota National Guard. He went into the camps twice – more from curiosity than for any kind of mission, he said.

His daily routine included driving between construction sites, relaying information, scheduling, and ensuring construction workers were brought to safety, he said.

“I would do whatever I could to get the workers out,” Thompson said. “They knew where my heart was at.”

Soon after the October 27 incident with Nastacio, Thompson was involved in an argument with a TigerSwan operative, he said.

Brennon Nastacio and Kyle Thompson on October 27, 2016 – online sources

“They talked down on our company,” he said. “We were just tasked to watch out for construction workers and equipment, but it kept getting under my skin and our guys were actually doing more reporting than anyone else at the time. I was always on top of it, we weren’t out there for any other reason.”

During a morning meeting he decided he’d had enough.

“One day it just got to me, and I said f*ck it, I don’t need this and walked out. We didn’t work for the other security elements. We didn’t work for DAPL directly, even from the beginning the owners of the company and my boss told me not to get affiliated too much with other security elements.

“They didn’t want to get tied up with anything illegal or have any more headaches.”

Leighton Security Services is an active private security company based out of Texas. Kevin Mayberry, the owner and president, feels confident his company left as good an impression as possible on locals and Standing Rock leadership and activists. Leighton Security Services was subcontracted to EH Investigations and two other companies along the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“Kyle is a good dude,” Mayberry said. “We’ve done a lot for Kyle and his family, and he did do a good job while he was out there, and then he went south a little bit. He’ll get his life straightened out.”

Mayberry’s company steered clear of the drama while in North Dakota, he said. “We told our people to stay away from that crap. There was a lot of stuff up there that happened that’s 100 percent true,” Mayberry said. “And there’s a lot of stuff that went on up there that is 100 percent false. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly who did what, but I was made aware of different situations and we put two and two together and figured out who it was.”

Two trucks burned at Backwater Bridge – photo by C.S. Hagen

He once received an anonymous email from someone claiming to be a TigerSwan employee who leaked that the international security company was actively trying to sabotage other security companies in the area and shift blame, Mayberry said.

“TigerSwan didn’t have a license, and everyone they used didn’t have a license and we wondered for months how they were even operating up there,” Mayberry said. “They had hundreds of guys who were carrying weapons and all types of military equipment that wasn’t even licensed to carry in that state. Energy Transfer didn’t know half the crap that was going on.

“TigerSwan was out there running crazy.”

TigerSwan Inc., with offices in Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, India, Latin America, and headquartered in North Carolina, has won more than 13 contracts with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security since 2014, worth more than $9 million, according to USASpending.gov.

TigerSwan, its founder James Reese, and EH Investigations currently face civil lawsuits filed by the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board, a governor-appointed committee that licenses and regulates private security industries in North Dakota.

When called to a site that included activists, Mayberry said that Standing Rock leaders and activists showed him and his company respect.

“We would go out there and they wouldn’t do anything to us, we were just doing our job,” he said. “But if any other security company went out there, we would have to like break it up. They respected us and we respected them.”

When asked about illegal tactics used by TigerSwan or other security companies, Thompson said he needed to wait to testify in court. Intelligence reports were an integral component of daily security briefings he attended.

“TigerSwan controlled the way the meetings went, it was common knowledge that they were running the show,” Thompson said.

He has only one regret, he said. “I wish I could go back to October 27 and not drive up to take that picture. It’s almost embarrassing because people think I was doing so much more.”

Despite working odd jobs since working security for DAPL, Thompson isn’t uncertain about his future. He is quietly confident, answering questions briefly but succinctly.

“My plans for the future will continue to be to help others in need,” Thompson said. “I’ll do whatever I can in my power to achieve that goal.”

IT specialists investigate cyber warfare crimes at Standing Rock

State worked with TigerSwan to ensure “battle rhythm,” second DAPL security worker whistleblower steps forward 

 By C.S. Hagen
CANNON BALL – The lawsuit against TigerSwan for illegally working security in North Dakota is a civil case, but proof now exists that cyber warfare tactics were used against activists at the Standing Rock camps, according to IT analysts. One question remains: who was responsible for launching the attacks?

Hundreds of mobile phones and vehicles were damaged as batteries were suddenly drained of power, or were “fried,” during warm and cold weather. Incidents of random hot spots for Internet reception with alternating GPS locations, hacked laptops and cellphones, are too many to count. Bugs or listening devices were planted in meeting rooms at the nearby Prairie Knights Casino & Resort. Fiber cable boxes were broken into. Additionally, cars en route to and from Oceti Sakowin broke down without warning, and have not been the same since.

Morton County Sheriff’s Department denied that their deputies used cyber weaponry, but leased a mobile cellular tower from Verizon to boost reception. The Office of the Governor of the State of North Dakota claims it was unaware that TigerSwan was operating illegally, and yet was in the loop, keeping the “battle rhythm” alive. The National Guard is considered a “law enforcement multiplier” under emergency situations, and police are not in the business of digital disruption, preferring to operate in the legal gray zone of electronic intelligence gathering. Possible suspects that remain include the federal government and TigerSwan, the North Carolina security firm whose services were paid by Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access LLC.

Headed by former Delta Force officer James Reese, both Reese and TigerSwan face a civil lawsuit filed by the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board for illegally working in the state despite repeated warnings. 

The cyber and cellular attacks at Standing Rock on activists ranged from malware, IMSI catchers, to electromagnetic field devices, IT analysts report. Malware typically comes as viruses through emails, links, or attachments and acts with stealth, not programed to alert the owner. IMSI Catchers – sometimes known by the brand Stingrays – act as fake cellular towers, forcing GSM phones to connect and then suck in data. The electromagnetic field device is a cyber weapon used in the Middle East to block cellular phones sending data to Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs. It is a short burst of electromagnetic energy meant to disrupt or damage nearly any equipment with a microchip.

Semi-mobile Stingray rogue field intercept cell tower antenna array with collection/detection gear powered by a grid utility pole with a backup battery, photographed by drone near to where Standing Rock Chairman was arrested – photo by Myron Dewey

Only government entities can authorize a cyber or cellular attack. 

Plucked from the war-torn fields of Afghanistan and Iraq, TigerSwan employees are well trained in military tactics, and the company not only advertises its military-grade data and human intelligence capabilities on its website, it has a history of partnering with hi-tech companies, such as its 2012 partnership with Saffron Technology. 

Saffron Technology is a small data analytics company that uses technology to mimic the human brain’s capability to connect people, places, and things, at lightning speed, according to the company’s website. Saffron Technology’s products were originally used in Iraq to predict where bombs were located, according to Reuters, but now it offers its services to corporations such as Boeing Co., to forecast weather, and to TigerSwan. 

While IT technicians continue the hunt for additional proof of cyber weaponry used at the Standing Rock camps, the Water Protector Legal Collective, which operates in partnership with the National Lawyers Guild in defending many activists, reports Kourtni Dockter, a former DAPL security employee, is not the only whistleblower.

On Tuesday night, Kyle Thompson, the former project manager for Leighton Security Security Services, came forward live on Digital Smoke Signals with owner Myron Dewey, and began to tell his side of the Dakota Access Pipeline story, making hints that more is to come. Thompson’s burgeoning testimony comes after his former girlfriend and Leighton security employee, Dockter, blew the whistle on TigerSwan activities.

Kyle Thompson during interview on Digital Smoke Signals

“We are starting to see some of the security workers defect,” Water Protector Legal Collective staff attorney Andrea Carter said. “When you look at Kyle’s interview yesterday, i think he feels very troubled about what happened, and a part of him really wants to connect to the camps.” 

Thompson plans on sharing more information about his experience working security along the Dakota Access Pipeline, but “not yet,” he said. 

“I feel like I can help a lot of people with me coming out with my truth, which could benefit the people facing charges,” Thompson said during the recorded interview. 

“The healing has started,” Dewey said. “And it’s not easy.” 

The casualties

As the Dodge Ram’s engine sputtered, Alex Glover-Herzog wasn’t thinking of the military-Internet complex or of TigerSwan, or of the DAPL helicopter that swooped low along the Missouri River’s banks. 

Late November outside of Standing Rock, Glover-Herzog was trying to stay warm. His 4×4’s engine was purring normally, pouring much-needed heat from the vents before the engine coughed, then suddenly died. 

“It was way too cold to think about anything else at that moment,” Glover-Herzog said. “The only thing I can say is that my truck died twice for no reason while at Oceti.” 

Hundreds of others camped outside of Standing Rock during the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy experienced the same phenomena, Myron Dewey, owner of Digital Smoke Signals, said. It resembled a futuristic nightmare straight from the movie “Matrix,” executive director for Geeks Without Bounds, Lisha Sterling, said. She spent months at the camps training people and helping improve communication technology. Geeks Without Bounds is a Washington-based humanitarian organization that works toward improving communication and technology. 

Two automobiles that suddenly lost battery power at Standing Rock camps – photo provided by Myron Dewey

“When the squids were coming at them.” Sterling said about the comparison of the “Matrix” scene and what happened at the Standing Rock camps. “They powered down their machine and did an EM pulse, which fries electronics… and the squids coming at them.” 

Cooper Quentin, the staff technologist on the cyber team with Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit organization defending liberties in the digital world, spent a few days at the Standing Rock camps.

“While I was there I was looking for evidence of Stingrays, and I did not find any evidence,” Quentin said. “But they could have been using them before I got there.”

He looked at computers, mobile phones, but said he found nothing conclusive.

“There is definitely some weird stuff, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence, but it doesn’t have to be malware. Extreme temperatures can do weird things to phone batteries. There were definitely a lot of weird things going on at the camps, but none of that is exclusive.”

Quentin is still interested in investigating further, however, but the case needs a digital forensics expert, which is costly.

“Even if we do find malware that looked like spyware, and we were able to prove from time stamps that they got it while they were at Standing Rock, we would still need to prove where it came from. If the server is owned by law enforcement or TigerSwan, then you have solid attribution. If that’s not the case then it becomes much harder to figure out who to blame.

“But my opinion is not shared by some of the other experts. If people have solid evidence I would happily continue to investigate.”

Colorado resident Christina Arreguin’s first phone at Standing Rock became little better than a paperweight in mid-October, she said. She had 80 percent battery left when it got hit, but even after trying three separate chargers, her phone was never able to call or text again. She learned to adapt quickly; stowed the battery in one pocket, and her new phone in the other when she went to the frontlines.

The attacks weren’t isolated to the frontlines. Cars broke down when a helicopter flew by, she noticed. 

“The sound from the planes so much became like part of the background, just a familiar noise, kinda like how you get used to the beep from a smoke detector after a while,” Arreguin said. “I do remember a helicopter though, when the Blazer broke down it looked different than the other ones.” 

The omnipresent white helicopter over Standing Rock camps – photo provided by Myron Dewey

“When the Cessna flew by, that’s when cellphones got zapped,” Lisa Ling, also with Geeks Without Bounds, said. Ling is a former Air Force technical sergeant who worked in America’s armed drone program in what is known as a Distributed Ground System, a secret networked killing operation capable of sucking up personal data to be able to track and shoot people anywhere, and at any time. Ling turned whistleblower in 2014, and her testimony was featured in the 2016 documentary film National Bird

On Ling’s first trip to the Standing Rock camps, Internet connection was difficult. 

“When we first got there the only place you could get any connectivity was Facebook Hill,” Ling said. “If you left Facebook Hill there was no connectivity.” On her second trip, she said random places in the camps had connectivity. She knocked on tent and tipi doors asking people if they had boosters. No one had any. 

“My phone actually got zapped a number of times by some sort of EMP,” Ling said. “These cellular disruptors, as we call them, can do physical damage to the phone.” Such an attack is not legal for a private company to issue, and Ling said it should not be legal for law enforcement to utilize without warrants. 

FOIA requests to the Office of the Governor of North Dakota, to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, to the North Dakota National Guard, so far, have revealed that no warrants were issued for the use of cyber weapons outside of Standing Rock.

Such attacks are an invasion of privacy, a right protected by the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, which states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.”

Fiber optic box broken into near Standing Rock – photo provided by Lisa Ling

“I paid close attention to what things flying above us when certain things happened,” Ling said. “And there was a small white plane, and that’s the thing that flew when our phones got zapped. So if you managed to turn your phone off when that thing came by, then your phone wouldn’t get zapped. When that Cessna was up, cellphones got zapped, and it wasn’t because of the cold, as they’re trying to say, it happened before the winter as well.” 

Ling brought radios to the camps to help with communication and safety during sub-zero temperatures, she said, but TigerSwan operatives discovered their frequencies and harassed them. Internet cables were cut inside the dome by infiltrators, she said. 

“They were intentionally interrupting that,” Ling said, adding that during the freezing winter months such interruptions could have cost lives. 

The automobile breakdowns coincided with either the private Cessna that circled the camps, or with helicopters. 

“I documented, I have proof,” Dewey said. Proof was easy to obtain because of the “digital divide” separating Indian country and the rest of the modernized world. He spotted and photographed a Stingray device near Highway 1806 where Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II was arrested. 

Myron Dewey with drone, all charges against him dropped earlier this week – Facebook page

The device has been identified by multiple sources as a semi-mobile Stingray rogue field intercept cell tower antenna array with collection and detection gear powered by a grid utility pole with a battery backup.

“It was easy to identify cyber warfare out there, because we already were in a digital divide,” Dewey said. Dewey is also a filmmaker, uses drones, and lost at least three to gunfire and electromagnetic field devices, he said. Charges against Dewey were dropped this week, and he is waiting the return of one of his drones in Mandan. 

“Indian country has been in a digital divide since America has had access to technology.” 

Dewey claims that TigerSwan operatives on snowmobiles chased him while he was driving, and he has video to prove the harassment. One of his drones was hit at Treaty Camp, which was taken over by law enforcement on October 27, 2016.

“The drones were hit several different ways, so I sent one drone up and another to film it and see what happened,” Dewey said. “It seemed like an EMP charge, but it was more like a wave, and it dropped into the water.”

His mobile phone also got hacked, Dewey said. “It started recording my voice right in front of me and another guy, and then sent to text. I was really paranoid a lot of the times, but I had people to protect me some times.”

In addition to the cyber attacks, TigerSwan operatives, or security personnel working under the TigerSwan umbrella, boarded vehicles like pirates to a ship, he said, smashed out windows, stole radios to report misleading information, and curse.

“‘We’re going to rape your women and have half-breed babies,’” Dewey said the security operatives would yell over frequencies activists used. The threats were difficult to ignore as they brought on old fears from native oral stories and traditions handed down for generations.

“If the military catches you, stuff your insides with dirt in the hopes that they kill you,” Dewey said. “We thought the police were there to keep the peace, but it was like Custer who wanted the gold. History repeating itself, the second wave of Custer’s cavalry, and they felt the need to win.”

Dewey drives a Yukon Hybrid, and had just installed a new battery when it too was fried at the Standing Rock camps. The first electromagnetic pulse hit the camps in August, Dewey said. “Several hoods were up, and I went over and asked them what happened and they said they’re batteries were dead as well.” 

The cyber field of battle sits in a legal gray zone, but inside the United States only a government entity has the authority to utilize use cyber weapons. Private companies, even if they are attacked first, cannot legally reciprocate on their own volition.

“So my educated guess is that the IMSI Catchers were owned and authorized by either or both the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and the National Guard, but the chances are similarly high that they would not have had the experience to manage them, so that is where TigerSwan comes in,” Sterling said.

“It is also possible that nobody really cared, and that they were owned by TigerSwan themselves.”

Outside of the NSA, the CIA, the FBI, and a handful of other government agencies, only criminal organizations and massive corporations have the funds to purchase and store high-end disruptive cyber weapons. A zero-day vulnerability exploit targeting Apple products can cost as much as $500,000.

IMSI Catchers used to be difficult to obtain, but now can be bought online for under $2,000 on Alibaba, or from dozens of companies online some of whom specify their products are for law enforcement use only.

“What we got now is the lull between battles,” Sterling said. “It will more likely be seen in the big cities soon, Standing Rock Part Two, in terms of the cyber warfare, the strong-armed tactics, and not just militarized police, but the militarized contractors as well.”

North Dakota National Guard vehicles at Standing Rock camps – photo provided by Myron Dewey

The gray zone

Cyber weapons are not lethal in the sense of traditional weapons, but can also be dangerous and disruptive far beyond an intended target, Shane Harris, the author of the 2014 book “@ War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex,” wrote. Harris is a senior correspondent at the Daily Beast and covers national security, intelligence, and cyber security. 

Cyber warfare began in the 1990s. Early pioneers, or cyber warriors, blazed a complicated legal trail into the 2000s until 2013, when former President Barack Obama issued executive order PDD-20, effectively paving the way for more streamlined cyber defense and offense. 

Black helicopter flying over the Standing Rock camps – photo provided by Myron Dewey

The president must order all cyber strikes internationally; no private companies are authorized for digital, cellular, or cyber offensive actions. Despite a contentious relationship between government agencies and private companies, “there’s an alliance forming between government and business in cyberspace,” Harris wrote. 

“It’s born of a mutual understanding that US national security and economic well-being are fundamentally threatened by rampant cyber espionage and potential attacks on vital infrastructure,” Harris wrote. 

Oil pipelines are included under the infrastructure category by the Department of Homeland Security, as are dams, chemicals, emergency services, communications, critical manufacturing, healthcare, water and wastewater, transportation, information technology, and government facilities, along with other sectors of economy. 

Approximately 85 percent of the computer networks in the United States are owned and operated by private groups and individuals, and any one of the telecom companies, the tech titans, the financial institutions, the defense contractors, could be the weak link against cyber attacks. 

“The government has decided that protecting cyberspace is a top national priority,” Harris wrote. “But the companies have a voice in how that job gets done. That’s the alliance at the heart of the military-Internet complex.” 

Masked TigerSwan employee – photo provided by Myron Dewey

The Homeland Security Presidential Directive, or HSPD-7, signed by former president George W. Bush on December 17, 2003, seeks to protect infrastructure from “terrorist attacks.”

During the months TigerSwan was illegally involved as the chief security organizer for Energy Transfer Partners’s oil interests, the security company called activists camped against the Dakota Access Pipeline terrorists, even jihadists.

“Terrorists seek to destroy, incapacitate, or exploit critical infrastructure and key resources across the United States to threaten national security, cause mass casualties, weaken our economy, and damage public morale and confidence,” HSPD-7 reports. 

“While it is not possible to protect or eliminate the vulnerability of all critical infrastructure and key resources throughout the country, strategic improvements in security can make it more difficult for attacks to succeed and can lessen the impact of attacks that may occur. In addition to strategic security enhancements, tactical security improvements can be rapidly implemented to deter, mitigate, or neutralize potential attacks.” 

The lines between spies, saboteurs, or intelligence gathering and military operations are blurred. Intelligence gathering techniques fall into a legal gray area and while the tactic may not be illegal for a federal or police agency to conduct on US citizens, the evidence obtained by such means may still not be allowed in a court of law. 

Daily, TigerSwan coordinated and provided intelligence to Energy Transfer Partners and others. TigerSwan placed operatives in the law enforcement joint operations center, and were responsible for in-depth analyses of cyber, workforce, facility, electronic, and environmental security threats, according to the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board.

Emails shared between Morton County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Rob Keller and Office of the Governor of North Dakota Communications Director Mike Nowatzki, the governor’s office was knowledgeable of TigerSwan’s activity, but reported they did not know the security company was working illegally.

“I wanted to give you a heads up on this Energy Transfer and TigerSwan meeting with Kyle [Kirchmeier],” Keller wrote to Nowatzki on January 16. “I don’t know the intent and the PIOs will not be there.” 

“If it is a closed session, it’s fine,…” Nowatzki wrote back. “Our JIC PIO and Unified Command meet from 0830 to 1000 (CT) every Tuesday so that battle rhythm should be protected with our state team.” 

Battle rhythm is a military term, meant to describe the maintenance of synchronized activity and process among distributed “warfighters,” according to the Defense Technical Information Center.

“I was deployed to the Middle East, and the term was used there,” Ling said. “I worked in the drone program, and the term was there. I worked in the National Guard and the term was used there, but I have never heard the term battle rhythm used in a civilian setting. It would imply that there is an enemy.”

– This story is part of the ongoing investigation into government and TigerSwan’s actions during the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy. 

DAPL Whistleblower In Hiding After Receiving Threats, ND Board files civil action against TigerSwan

North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board cites TigerSwan for illegal activity, FOIA requests pending without response from ND governor’s office

By C.S. Hagen
BISMARCK – Former DAPL security employee turned whistleblower, Kourtni Dockter, is in hiding. Threats from “concerned citizens” have been made against her; a black truck with no license plates is surveilling her parents’ house.

“They have threatened me, claiming that I’m a junkie drug addict and they want to come beat my ass,” Dockter said. “When we get evidence of that, that could be considered tampering with a federal witness.” 

Despite her checkered past and brushes with the law, she is not reneging her stance, and is prepared to testify in court to what she calls illegal actions of TigerSwan and other security companies involved in protecting the Dakota Access Pipeline. 

Kourtni Dockter – Facebook page

Speaking out against the tactics used on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and supporting activists — known as water protectors — was not a decision Dockter made overnight. The more than 20,000 activists and supporters of the anti-DAPL movement at the camps were called terrorists by state politicians, and ideological jihadists with a “strong religious component” by TigerSwan leadership.

“They talked about jihad all the time,” Dockter said. “Every day I heard it, from the security workers to the DAPL actual employees. They told everyone to be armed. Basically, TigerSwan was trying to portray this as, ‘You guys need to fear for your lives.’”

The terms were indoctrinated into security personnel meetings, disseminated to mainstream media disguised deliberately as news, when at least part of the violence along the pipeline in 2016 and early 2017 was amplified and created by the security companies, most importantly TigerSwan, according to leaked and requested documents first published by The Intercept

TigerSwan, a private security company with a long history in Afghanistan, also stated on February 27, 2017 that since the NoDAPL movement followed jihadist insurgency models, expect a “post-insurgency model after its collapse.” 

Exposing the agenda behind the 1,172-mile-long, $3.8 billion pipeline financed by Energy Transfer Partners and 17 financial institutions such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, BNP Paribas of France, was an idea she and former boyfriend, Kyle Thompson, had been planning for months, she said. 

“This has nothing to do with me being an angry girlfriend,” Dockter, 22, said. “I know that my criminal record and history will be brought up, but I am willing to stand tall. I am expecting everything. I’m about to be put into the line of fire, but I know, in my heart, it is the right thing to do.”

Posing for a picture at a barricade – that was not set on fire by activists, according to activists – online srouces

The months John Porter, listed as TigerSwan’s chief security officer for Energy Transfer Partners, were by far, the most violent, Dockter said.

“There was a huge change,” Dockter said about when TigerSwan was actively present. “It went from military-style operations basically back to simple security work.”

Harsh winter weather, President Donald Trump’s executive order allowing the Dakota Access Pipeline to get back on track, and the successful siege tactics used against Standing Rock camps, killed much of the activist spirit, former security worker at Oceti Sakowin, Mike Fasig, said.

“We were pretty well boxed in,” Fasig said. “Things calmed down because we never could get past anything. There were five-ton military trucks and barricades that boxed us in. There wasn’t really anything we could do.” 

“It was insane,” Dockter said. “This was their constitutional right, and they’re getting their lives threatened. They tried to justify the reasons they would have to use deadly force, and there were no instances of water protectors committing violent acts on police. 

Some of the acts reported by law enforcement were committed by security company infiltrators disguised as activists, Dockter said. The charge is one long discussed at the Standing Rock camps, but one for which there was little proof until Dockter came forward with information. “They did send their infiltrators in to disguise themselves, and they did light equipment on fire. John Porter headed all those operations.” 

Her family supports her, she said. Her father, especially, is undaunted. She described herself as a diehard liberal, who was against the pipeline to begin with, but after meeting Thompson at a local McDonalds, it was love at first sight. 

“He opened up to me the first night,” Dockter said. The two met on Facebook, and she believes Thompson originally wanted to meet her for information as she had friends involved in the Standing Rock camps. “We hit it off. We told each other everything that first night. And after, we never left each other’s side.” 

Thompson was nicknamed the “DAPL Apple” — as he is part Native American, and was “red on the outside, white on the inside,” Dockter said. A veteran, and recipient of a Purple Heart, Thompson suffers from what she believes is PTSD after two tours in Afghanistan and one tour in Iraq. Thompson slowly pulled her into working for North Dakota-based EH Investigations and Security, LLC. Initially, he wanted to become involved with security work because he wanted to protect everyone involved, Dockter said. 

“At first I was very hesitant, but the pay was good,” Dockter said. “I’m not some DAPL infiltrator here. I feel like I sold out for a guy that I loved. I put him above everything and threw away my beliefs.” 

Attempts were made to contact Thompson, but he refused to comment. 

Text from EH Investigations to Kourtni Dockter – provided by Kourtni Dockter

In January, Dockter began working for EH Investigations, which was subcontracted by Leighton Security Services as the Texas-based company was not authorized to work in North Dakota. She was paid $18 an hour, sometimes working 36-hour shifts, she said. She became aware of daily closed meetings known as “The Talk,” where TigerSwan personnel, led by Porter, directed and coordinated security measures and infiltration tactics, reinforcing the notion that the activists were terrorist-like jihadists. 

“They acted above law enforcement for sure,” Dockter said. “They directed law enforcement, and that is where they talked about classified stuff. Sometimes I would sit outside the door and there are a couple things I overheard. 

Dockter also described TigerSwan media cells using high-tech software to discover locations and intelligence in private social media pages, Dockter said. TigerSwan documents also show that security personnel relied heavily on social media postings for information.

Eventually, Dockter was fired after EH Investigations personnel discovered her past with drugs and forgery. 

“Because of my criminal record they could not have me out there,” she said. “I was already out there for about a month before they found out.” She is unfazed by those who say she is not a credible witness. “It doesn’t bother me, because what I am saying will be backed up with evidence.”

Months before Thompson’s arrest on domestic abuse and drug paraphernalia charges in April, the young couple was planning on quitting drugs and blowing the whistle on TigerSwan, she said. The activities she saw, the plans she heard while with Thompson or working in security, has been eating at her conscience. 

The initial stages of building the barricade at Backwater Bridge – photo by C.S. Hagen

TigerSwan’s claws sunk deep
The morning after law enforcement cleared the “Treaty Camp” on October 27, 2016, hundreds of activists defending Native American treaty rights, water rights, and land rights, lined up north of three smoldering vehicles. Fifty yards away, construction trucks set the first cement blocks in a line, forming the second barricade on Highway 1806. 

Weeks earlier and under emergency orders issued by former Governor Jack Dalrymple, the North Dakota National Guard manned the first barricade, more of a checkpoint for passing cars. 

Tensions brewed at the frontline that day. Police or security personnel taunted activists through a megaphone, teasing them about being cowards behind masks. At their line sat military Humvees, a tan armored vehicle equipped with a sound cannon. Activists brandished plywood shields, and refused to budge. Most activists shouted peaceful messages; one man hurled insults at the police. 

After police issued a final warning, law enforcement from five states decked out in sheriff deputy uniforms, riot gear, and armed with mace, pepper spray, rubber bullets, zip ties and clubs, some with live ammunition, formed a Roman-style phalanx and marched down the highway toward Backwater Bridge. Activists smudged each other with burning sweetgrass and sage. One woman sat amidst the crowd praying, crying so hard her shoulders shook. Two women hugged each other tightly as the marching police neared. 

The day was saved by one man with snowy-white hair, smoking a pipe, and wearing a jogging suit, Miles Allard, an elder from Standing Rock. After negotiations, both sides backed down, but the near-altercation was a sign of bigger events to come. 

Standing Rock elder Miles Davis approaching the police line – photo by C.S. Hagen

TigerSwan, straight from the war-torn fields in Afghanistan, was in town. One of the first things the mercenary-for-hire company did was gather all the security companies and put them under a “unified command structure,” according to a September 7, 2016 TigerSwan overview report. 

TigerSwan operatives called security workers from Silverton International unprofessional and unarmed. Other security companies involved included: Thompson-Gray LLC, Knightsbridge Risk Management,10 Code Security, established in Bismarck in 2010, and RGT Security, LLC, registered in Plano, Texas in 2016, Iowa’s Per Mar Security Services, SRC, Inc. in New York, and veteran-owned OnPoint Security Group LLC, from Iowa.

Not surprisingly, TigerSwan took the “fusion lead.” Now, the mercenary-for-hire company and its founder, James Patrick Reese, face a civil action lawsuit filed by the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board on June 12, 2017. 

The phalanx of law enforcement coming for activists on Backwater Bridge – photo by C.S. Hagen

“The Board has taken an administrative complaint which it has brought against EH and its principal, and that is pending,” Monte Rogneby, attorney for Vogel Law Firm and the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board, said. 

“The board is in the process of a civil action against TigerSwan, and that I believe is out for service. The board does have civil authority to initiate either administrative actions or civil actions under the Century Code.”

A security company providing illegal security services in North Dakota is a Class B misdemeanor, Rogneby said. Class B misdemeanors can carry a potential sentence of up to one year in jail and $2,000 in fines, according to the North Dakota Century Code. The board’s investigation is ongoing. 

TigerSwan Inc., with offices in Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, India, Latin America, and headquartered in North Carolina, has won more than 13 contracts with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security since 2014 worth more than $9 million, according to USASpending.gov. 

The North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board is a governor-appointed committee that licenses and regulates private security industries, according to its website. 

EH Investigations civil complaint
According to the civil complaint filed by the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board, Jeremie Meisel is listed as the responsible license holder for EH Investigations and Security, LLC, a licensed security agency in North Dakota. In August, 2016, Meisel and EH Investigations were contacted by Leighton Security Services, Inc. to assist with security along the Dakota Access Pipeline. 

“Leighton is not licensed or registered to provide private security within the State of North Dakota,” the civil complaint stated. “Meisel and EH Investigations conspired with Leighton to assist Leighton in hiring and deploying within the State of North Dakota unlicensed or unregistered individuals to provide private investigative services in violation of North Dakota law.”

In the fall of 2016, Meisel relinquished his responsibility to Leighton in violation of North Dakota law, according to the civil complaint. The civil complaint further mentioned some of EH Investigations employees: Richard Anderson, Jason Wentz, Chris Anderson, Eizabeth Marlow, Merry Jenson, and Kimberly Stuart. None were registered in North Dakota to provide security services at the times of their hiring.  

The North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board further requested a hearing to revoke the license and registration of Meisel and EH Investigations, or take lawful disciplinary action against them. 

Calls were made and messages were left to EH Investigations personnel for comment, but no replies were made at press time. 

Screenshot of the civil action lawsuit against TigerSwan

TigerSwan civil action 
The civil action lawsuit against TigerSwan revealed the mercenary-for-hire company had a methodical and blatant disregard for North Dakota laws. 

Energy Transfer Partners hired TigerSwan in September 2016, the civil action lawsuit reported. 

TigerSwan’s mission: conduct static and mobile security operations in support of the pipeline construction throughout North Dakota. The mercenary-for-hire company provided around-the-clock protection for DAPL, enlisting an “all elements are engaged to provide security support to DAPL” methodology as its execution model, according to TigerSwan organizational paperwork.  

Protect the DAPL contractors, protect DAPL machinery, protect DAPL material, protect DAPL reputation, was TigerSwan’s rallying cry, according to TigerSwan operational reports.  

On or before September 23, 2016, the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board notified TigerSwan with a letter that it was illegally providing security services in North Dakota. 

TigerSwan’s response: “TigerSwan is not conducting ‘private security services’ in North Dakota.” 

On October 5, 2016, North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board sent TigerSwan the guidelines for licensure in the state, and on November 16, 2016, TigerSwan submitted its application on behalf of Reese, but its application was denied one month later. 

TigerSwan was denied a license because it failed to provide positive criminal history for one or more qualifying offenses, it did not disclose adjudications of guilt, and it failed to provide sufficient information to the Board “to determine whether a reported offense or adjudication has a direct bearing on Reese’s fitness to serve the public.” 

After an attempted review, TigerSwan’s license application was rejected again on January 10, 2017, because the company failed to respond to the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board’s request for the company’s activities in North Dakota prior to its application for licensure. 

TigerSwan’s mercenaries, armed with semiautomatic rifles and sidearms, continued security services before, during, and after its license application was rejected, according to the lawsuit. The company also utilized international anti-terrorist strategies and tactics against NoDAPL activists. 

“TigerSwan provides ‘safety and security’ services, utilizing claimed trademarked methodologies (F3EAR and NIFE) to identify and mitigate risks through the corporate operating environment,” the civil action lawsuit states. “These services include providing in-depth analyses of cyber, workforce, facility, electronic, and environmental security threats.”

F3EAR®Find, Fix, Finalize, Exploit, Analyze, and Recur – former DELTA FORCE leaders who execute cyber and on-site infiltrations to identify weak spots in digital networks, employee bases, operations, and structural security.

NIFE® — Department of Defense compliant, military-grade data and human intelligence that analyzes networks, individuals, facilities, electronics, and the environment to manage risks associated with information security. 

Daily, TigerSwan coordinated and provided intelligence to Energy Transfer Partners and “others related to the ongoing protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline construction project,” which would include the representatives of more than 1,300 law enforcement officers from five different states who participated in the controversy.  

Intelligence came in the forms of flyover photography, summaries of arrests, activist activity, numbers, alleged criminal actions, and equipment. TigerSwan also provided projections of activist activity including the surveillance of social media accounts, according to the lawsuit.

“TigerSwan provided private security services to Energy Transfer Partners concerning the pipeline, and coordinated with other security providers and local law enforcement in carrying out these activities,” the civil action lawsuit reported. 

TigerSwan maintained the Joint Operations Command Center to coordinate security and intelligence gathering, and organized a Quick Reaction Force to respond to activist activities. It was also the main force behind suspected cybercrime acts on behalf of Energy Transfer Partners upon the hacking group “Anonymous” and other threats against Energy Transfer Partners and the company’s executives. 

TigerSwan operatives took keen interest in Native Americans from Standing Rock, Red Warrior Tribal security, Pine Ridge Sioux, the American Indian Movement, and others from Polynesia and Palestine. 

“The presence of additional Palestinians in the camp, and the movement’s involvement with Islamic individuals is a dynamic that requires further examination,” a September 21, 2016 situational report stated. “Currently there is no information to suggest terrorist type tactics or operations; however, with the current limitation on information flow out of the camp, it cannot be ruled out.” 

Approximately 761 people were arrested by law enforcement from August 2016 until February 2017, and more than $38 million was spent by the state defending Energy Transfer Partner’s Dakota Access Pipeline, which already has sprung two leaks.

Last week, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “mostly complied” with environmental law when approving the pipeline, but failed to consider some matters important to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The Dakota Access Pipeline began shipping oil on June 1. 

On June 7, a Freedom of Information Act request was made to the Governor’s Office of the State of North Dakota pertaining to TigerSwan activities in North Dakota, and a second request was made on June 20. The Governor’s office responded early this week.

Through emails between Morton County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Rob Keller and Office of the Governor Communications Director Mike Nowatzki, the governor’s office was knowledgeable of TigerSwan’s activity.  

“I wanted to give you a heads up on this Energy Transfer and TigerSwan meeting with Kyle [Kirchmeier],” Keller wrote to Nowatzki on January 16. “I don’t know the intent and the PIOs will not be there.”

“If it is a closed session, it’s fine,…” Nowatzki wrote back. “Our JIC PIO and Unified Command meet from 0830 to 1000 (CT) every Tuesday so that battle rhythm should be protected with our state team.”

‘Much Ado About Nothing’

Shakespeare play performers and organizers targeted

By C.S. Hagen
DETROIT LAKES – The Detroit Lakes Shakespeare in the Park volunteer group was targeted this week with hateful criticism shortly after New York City began performing its contemporary version of “Julius Caesar.”

In a week filled with partisan violence, which left five injured and the shooter killed during a Republican baseball practice at Simpson Field, Alexandria, Virginia, the online targeting left organizers of the 2017 Shakespearean comedy, “Much Ado About Nothing,” at Detroit Lakes City Park, shocked.

A post on the Detroit Lakes Shakespeare in the Park Facebook page

“The messages started Sunday morning,” Nikki Caulfield, the director of the play said. “I woke up and thought, ‘What the hell is this?’ It took a little longer to figure out that it was backlash against the Central Park production.”

“Just cancel this regressive leftist garbage already,” one commentator wrote.

“I think you guys got your nerve to put anything out like that about our president,” wrote another commentator between lines of gibberish. “You need to get your heart checked and see what’s going on with your heart that’s making it pump every day, it sure ain’t you as our heavenly father, and I’m sure he’s not happy with what you people are doing… If you can’t say something positive about this man then keep your lips closed and get your heart right and Satan is really out there raging…”

Some of the posts have since been deleted, Caulfield said.

Shakespeare in the Park Detroit Lakes has been performing for eight years in a row, making the 2017 season its ninth. The free play is set to begin June 22, and will continue until July 2.

One-star rating post on the Detroit Lakes Shakespeare in the Park Facebook page

“I’ve reached out to other theater groups in Minnesota and it sounds like no one else has experienced anything like this that I’ve heard,” Caulfield said. “The thing that surprises me is that we are clearly an amateur community group, and from the photos you can tell we are not in Central Park.”

The Detroit Lakes Shakespeare in the Park has never performed “Julius Caesar,” which is a tragedy based on true events written by playwright William Shakespeare around 1599.

New York City’s rendition of the play performed by the Public Theater depicts a blond man in a red tie being assassinated. Breitbart and Fox News were “aggrieved that the play appeared to show President Trump assassinated on stage under an American flag,” the New York Times reported.

“The Public Theater in New York City’s ‘Julius Caesar’ has garnered droves of negative attention because the contemporary rendition of William Shakespeare’s classic features a Caesar — who with his blonde hair, suit and long tie — looks like Trump,” the New York Times reported. “The play also has Caesar’s wife, Calpurnia, speak in a Slavic accent very much like Melania Trump.”

Even Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., took to Twitter attempting to connect the shooting in Alexandria to the controversy surrounding the Public Theater’s rendition.

Protest pamphlets found outside Trump Tower – online sources

Caulfield said she doesn’t understand why Detroit Lakes was targeted, other than its original name was simply Shakespeare in the Park. “I don’t know if it’s because I carelessly didn’t put Detroit Lakes into Shakespeare in the Park, or what. We are clearly a community theater, and we’re obviously not a professional group.”

The group’s Facebook name has been changed to Detroit Lakes Shakespeare in the Park.

The Shakespeare in the Park (New York) Facebook page is filled with hate speech, including calling Democrats communists and hypocrites.

“You have blood on your hands,” one commentator wrote.

Pamphlets apparently found outside Trump Tower called for a protest at Central Park Theater in New York City today at 5 p.m.

Stephanie Murry, the artistic director of North Dakota Shakespeare in Grand Forks, has not heard of any similar incidents in North Dakota. She said she respects differing opinions, but does not want to make a strong political statement. “We want our shows to be as inclusive as possible.”

Shakespeare in the Park New York Facebook page post

Bill Lucas, a former Fargo educator, comedy company owner, and local director and actor, said directors have the right to select the shows they want to perform, but potential customers also have the right to protest.

“Julius Caesar is a political statement if you want to believe it was a political statement,” Lucas said. “Just like nursery rhymes we teach children, which were directed at the kings of England.”

The only time plays should be stopped, he said, is if taxpayer money is involved in places such as schools: the criticism against Detroit Lakes Shakespeare in the Park is misdirected.

“It’s a shame they’re being threatened, and that people aren’t doing more research.

There’s almost no show you can’t find something controversial in, even though it’s Shakespeare. If she was doing the same exact show as in New York City then they have the right to protest, but first find out what is going on before you start protesting.”

Since Sunday, the group’s Facebook page received a flash flood of one-star ratings and rants. Other criticisms were written into existing posts. One of the people who left a one-star rating was from Florida, another from Chicago.

“My take is that given the history of productions of this show, showing various political leaders as the Julius Caesar role, is nothing new,” Caulfield said. “To treat it as something new, is a lack of understanding of how some of this stuff works.”


Much Ado About Nothing

June 22-July 2

Detroit Lakes Shakespeare in the Park

Detroit Lakes City Park, Park Blvd, Detroit Lakes, 218-844-4221

6 performances, weather permitting: June 22, 23,24, 30, July 1, 7pm; July 2, 2pm

Tickets: Free and open to the public


Former DAPL Security Speaks Out, Damning TigerSwan Tactics 

By C.S. Hagen
– Speaking from a nondescript hotel room, a former DAPL security employee revealed secret agendas, illegal activities, and widespread drug use among private security employees hired by Energy Transfer Partners to protect the company’s interests along to the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. 

Kyle Thompson and Kourtni Dockter – Facebook page

Describing an agenda that included setting company vehicles on fire, stealing equipment, and intentionally riling up protesters, Kourtni Dockter, 22, of Bismarck, exposed that the security firms involved actively attempted to pin illegal activities on activists. 

Dockter contacted Michael Fasig, who worked Oceti Sakowin security during the controversy, and Aubree Peckham, both affiliated with ActivateNow, an independent news network, for the interview. Days before she spoke, she made an announcement. 

“Free bird,” she wrote on her Facebook page on June 5. “Prepare for a major info drop my fellow ex-DAPL workers… I’m about to expose everything that illegally happened during my job working security.”

Appearing slightly nervous, Dockter first said that she was speaking of her own free will, and had not been coerced in any way. “I’m doing this because I want to expose the truth,” she said. 

Dockter is also the former girlfriend of Kyle Thompson, the Thompson-Gray LLC security employee who was disarmed by activists of a AR-15 on October 27, 2016 while reportedly driving his pickup truck at high speeds toward the Oceti Sakowin camps. 

Starting early November 2016, Dockter said she worked with Leighton Security Services, and “never left his [Thompson] side after that.” She would frequently meet at the Mandan Yard where the security firms, TigerSwan Inc., Leighton Security Services, LLC, established in 2011 in Honey Grove, Texas, and 10 Code Security, established in 2010 in Bismarck, frequently met with pipeline executives and law enforcement. 

Leighton Security Services owner Kevin Mayberry, said he has never heard of Dockter, but that if she had worked for his company it would have been indirectly with EH Investigations LLC.

“We subcontracted to them,” Mayberry said. “I got some word about some lady who was saying something about TigerSwan, but we didn’t have anything to do with anything like that what was going on. Our only part up there was watching welding equipment and working in the main yards.” 

“Our company was never mentioned in any type of scandalous way up there,” Mayberry said. “We pretty much kept to the sidelines, and I wouldn’t let my company get involved in the things that were going on up there.”

When asked if he knew about any illegal activity committed by pipeline security personnel, he said that he would need to talk to his company’s legal counsel before divulging any more information. “I got my opinion, but it would all be speculation,” Mayberry said. “My company, me, I would not let our guys get involved because I didn’t think it was right.” 

EH Investigations LLC is listed as a limited liability company involved with private investigations and security, and established on November 5, 2015 in Bismarck, according to the North Dakota Secretary of State. Other media have listed HE Security, Russell Group Security, and SRG Security, along with other security agencies, worked the Dakota Access Pipeline route, and were responsible for equipment safety, drilling operations, and filming operations. 

Dockter said illegal activity was encouraged by security companies, who used agents to infiltrate the camps, and commit crimes that were later pinned on activists. 

“They [security companies] had incentives for people to hurt other people,” Dockter said.” They wanted the protesters to be riled up, they wanted their guns shown, they even sent in people from the other side that would have guns to make it seem that the protesters had guns and they could jump in and act on it.” 

TigerSwan at times authorized deadly force, and looked favorably at employees who incited violence that led to arrests, Dockter said. 

“They did have deadly force authorized, but there were times like the incident with the horse when TigerSwan authorized deadly force and they’re not even supposed to be doing that. They acted above the law.”

She went on to describe a day when Thompson allegedly swerved into the opposite lane into oncoming traffic and intentionally sideswiped youth on horseback. 

The live feed frequently suffered interruption, garbling some of Dockter’s responses. “We’ve been DAPLed,” was a response many watchers joked about, referring to the cyber warfare activists reported they experienced while at the camps outside of Standing Rock. 

Thompson did not have a driver’s license, or a security license, Dockter said. On the day he was arrested by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, he was snorting methamphetamine on a hill overlooking the camps, she said. 

Brennon Nastacio and Kyle Thompson on October 27, 2016 – online sources

“Once he was up for a week,” Dockter said. He was very high and strung out. When he’s high his voice changes. Kyle was trying to keep it all together, he was the only one who could do it, because he was high on meth. It’s ridiculous that Kyle pulled a gun, but doesn’t get in trouble. It’s crazy some of the things he pulled he gets away with, but the protesters would get arrested, maced right on the spot.”

Thompson has been repeatedly contacted for comment, but offered no reply to the accusations made by his former girlfriend.

Security employees were also overworked, and security firms frequently overcharged their employer, Energy Transfer Partners, Dockter said. 

“We had these positions filled, inserted these fake names on timesheets… to turn in to DAPL,” Dockter said. Out of 12 positions allocated for, only seven people worked security for Leighton Security Services, Dockter said. 

Dockter painted a picture resembling a Wild West show, with security personnel’s disregard for law and order, and a desire to become their employer’s hero of the week. 

“He said he ran into people, he ran into horses, he didn’t care,” Dockter said. “He wanted to. He liked it. He said ‘We didn’t know what they were capable of. We feared for our life.’” 

After the Treaty Camp was cleared on October 27, TigerSwan mercenaries set fire to the five-ton trucks on the bridge, she said.

“TigerSwan sent people out at night to light equipment on fire,” Dockter said. “John Porter was sent to set equipment on fire overnight. He did it solo, he had backup, had some drone coverage, but they set their own equipment on fire.” 

Private security personnel along pipeline route – online sources

Porter was the chief security officer for Energy Transfer Partners, according to documents leaked to media outlet The Intercept. Porter’s LinkedIn profile lists that he was the principal logistics advisor to the Afghan National Army and the Afghan Ministry of Defense from 2016, where he was responsible for advising, mentoring, and training for intelligence systems. Energy Transfer Partners is the parent company of Dakota Access LLC, who was responsible for construction of the 1,172-mile-long, $3.78 billion pipeline. 

Thompson also allegedly stole a radio from an elder at the camps, Dockter said, and went inside the camps on multiple occasions. Security personnel used the radio to spy on camp organizer’s radio frequencies. 

On November 21, the night of the standoff on Backwater Bridge, where law enforcement used water cannons, concussion grenades, rubber bullets and other non-lethal means against hundreds of activists in sub-freezing temperatures, security personnel infiltrated the “other side” to provoke, she said. 

“They were saying that protesters were throwing propane tanks,” Dockter said. “What actually happened was that TigerSwan sent people to the other side to start it. That’s why, they provoked it. Lots of money…

“That was definitely a provoked incident. Definitely.”

She referred to the same night that Sophia Wilansky, from New York, nearly had her arm blown off by what activists say was a concussion grenade, and what law enforcement claim was a homemade Coleman propane tank bomb.  

In an unrelated incident, Thompson, 30, was arrested April 18 for simple assault domestic violence, carrying a concealed weapon, and for possession of schedule I, II, and III drug paraphernalia, according to the Burleigh County arrest records. By the following afternoon, the domestic abuse charge was dropped, leaving two Class A misdemeanor charges: carrying a concealed firearm in his vehicle, and possessing drug paraphernalia, namely syringes and spoons, to consume methamphetamine, according to the Burleigh County Clerk of Court.

Dockter’s interview comes partway through a series of stories first revealed by leaked documents given to The Intercept, describing the private security company, TigerSwan Inc., and its relationship to local law enforcement, Energy Transfer Partners, and government agencies. 

TigerSwan Inc., with offices in Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, India, Latin America, and headquartered in North Carolina, has won more than 13 contracts with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security since 2014 worth more than $9 million, according to USASpending.gov.

The North Dakota Secretary of State holds one record for TigerSwan, LLC, established in Fargo on November 7, 2016, seven months after the controversy began. The company led a massive misinformation campaign to infiltrate local and national media calling activists “jihadists” with a religious agenda, and worked closely with law enforcement from five different states, using military-style counterterrorism measures against the movement opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“Make America Great Again” and private security personnel – online sources

“If you or someone got the protesters riled up and got them arrested, they looked at you way better for that,” Dockter said. “There was definitely incentive for that. They wanted that to happen. They wanted the protesters provoked so they could act on that.” 

Ten Code Security  was contacted for comment, but did not reply or refused to comment. TigerSwan Inc. was also contacted for information, but did not comment. Additionally at press time, it was unsure if Dockter is prepared to testify in any potential court proceedings.

This is a breaking story, updates to continue when available.

Leaked Documents 2: TigerSwan and Government Twist Narrative Over Dakota Access Pipeline

By C.S. Hagen
CANNON BALL – As at Wounded Knee in 1973, the Federal Bureau of Investigation used informants to infiltrate the anti-Dakota Access Pipeline camps, according to government emails leaked to media outlet The Intercept

The claim was widely believed true by activists in the Standing Rock camps against the Dakota Access Pipeline, but was never proven until now. Law enforcement from five different states, the North Dakota National Guard, the National Sheriff’s Association, and TigerSwan security personnel hired by Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of the Dakota Access LLC, also depended upon extracting information from social media feeds.

Police gather for a photo opportunity before a roadblock setup by activists, reports differ on who set the debris on fire – photo provided by online sources

Leaked emails stemming from the November 21 standoff on Backwater Bridge after militarized law enforcement used water cannons to force back hundreds of activists in freezing temperatures, reveal government agencies’ attempts to control the narrative. Hundreds of activists were reportedly injured, one seriously – Sophia Wilansky – was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after an explosion nearly ripped off her arm.

“Everyone watch a different live feed,” Bismarck Police Officer Lynn Wanner wrote in an email, which was seen by FBI agents, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“FBI inside source reporting propane tanks inside the camp rigged to explode,” Wanner, who according to records acted as an on-the-ground liaison between agencies, wrote in an email.

TigerSwan was quick to respond, worrying that activists would use the growing numbers of people injured as an “anti-DAPL propaganda,” according to records. 

Relying on information from the FBI’s infiltrator and social media posts on Facebook, U.S. Attorney’s Office National Security Intelligence Specialist Terry Van Horn sent out an email a day after the November 21 confrontation saying Wilansky was seen throwing a homemade Coleman-type gas canister bomb on Backwater Bridge.

“How can we get this story out? Rob Port?” Major Amber Balken, a public information officer with the North Dakota National Guard, said. “This is a must report.” 

Cecily Fong, a public information officer with the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, replied saying she would “get with” the blogger for wider dissemination. 

Medics working to warm a man suffering from hypothermia – photo by C.S. Hagen

Wilansky was injured by an explosion from the activists’ side, Morton County Sheriff’s Department reported at the time, even after many eyewitnesses came forward saying that Wilansky was first struck with rubber bullets, and then targeted by a compression grenade while she was on the ground. Another eyewitness said she was hit first by a rubber bullet, and then by the grenade as she crossed the guardrail south of Backwater Bridge, approximately 30 feet from the frontline.

Lawyers working with Wilansky’s father, Wayne Wilansky, denied the accusations citing government disinformation. Formal notices of claim were filed against the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier and other law enforcement agencies in May for state tort claims, and for libel, slander, and defamation of character. 

“This is outrageous that this happens in our country, and I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse,” Wayne Wilanksy said in a video interview.

In addition to the FBI’s informant, at least one other person was sighted in the back of a pickup truck holding a fake gun wrapped in duct tape, and another attempted to infiltrate the camps. 

Kyle Thompson, of Bismarck, was disarmed by activists then turned over to the Bureau of Indian Affairs on October 27, 2016. Thompson was later handed over to Morton County, and then released, called a victim. No charges were filed at that time, but Thompson was later arrested in an unrelated case on drug and weapons charges in April 2017 by Bismarck Police. 

Thompson worked for Thompson-Gray LLC, listed under Silverton Consulting International by the Ohio Secretary of State, according to paperwork discovered inside his truck. The company was not authorized to work in North Dakota, and was owned by Charles Graham Clifton, a man who has at least three civil lawsuits filed against him. 


Forty-three years after Wounded Knee
In 1973, confrontations between Native Americans and government agencies at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, lasted 71 days, leaving two people killed during shootouts, 12 people wounded, including one FBI agent, and to the arrests of approximately 1,200 people. Forty-three years later, the anti-DAPL movement camped outside Standing Rock for nearly ten months with no casualties, but hundreds suffered from hypothermia under siege-like tactics, and were also hit with mace, rubber bullets, pepper spray, attack dogs, and percussion grenades. Approximately 761 people were arrested by law enforcement, whose efforts and intelligence were coordinated by TigerSwan Inc., the  private security company hired by Energy Transfer Partners. 

Starting soon after Ohio-based Frost Kennels admitted its involvement in altercations when the security company’s attack dogs bit activists in September 2016, TigerSwan stepped in, and worked closely with law enforcement using military-style counterterrorism measures against the movement opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline, according to documents leaked to The Intercept.  

TigerSwan attempted to target Native Americans, especially those involved in the Red Warrior Society and the American Indian Movement, actress Shailene Woodley, even activists from Black Lives Matter, Veterans for Peace, the Catholic Worker Movement, and Food and Water Watch, according to records, and labelled activists outside of Standing Rock as “jihadists” involved in a religious uprising. 

Daily intelligence report from TigerSwan circulated to law enforcement included this picture of a gorilla overseeing the Standing Rock camps

Aaron Pollitt, 28, from Indiana, was charged on October 22, 2016 by Morton County Sheriff’s deputies for engaging in a riot and criminal trespass, and was also targeted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force after leaving Standing Rock. 

“It was really eerie,” Pollitt said. “It is really concerning to be investigated by a terrorism task force or state police, but I am not too concerned.This is an assault on the rights of people to be scaring us away from our right to protest and to free speech.”

TigerSwan Inc., with offices in Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, India, Latin America, and headquartered in North Carolina, has won more than 13 contracts with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security since 2014 worth more than $9 million, according to USASpending.gov. The North Dakota Secretary of State holds one record for TigerSwan, LLC, established in Fargo on November 7, 2016, seven months after the controversy began. 

Communication between the various agencies attempts to paint the activists – known as water protectors – as criminals, out of state troublemakers, and sexual deviants, a theme widely reported by the state’s media, particularly on the Forum Communication Company’s right-wing editorialist Say Anything Blog, managed by Port. 

“We probably should be ready for a massive media backlash tomorrow although we are in the right. 244 angry voicemails received so far,” Ben Leingang said on November 21. Leingang is listed as the director of the North Dakota Fusion Center, Bureau of Criminal Investigation, State of North Dakota, by Leadership Directories

The North Dakota Fusion Center was established by current Senator John Hoeven R-N.D., when he was governor in 2007, and began to serve as a industrial surveillance complex for communications between North Dakota law enforcement and National Guard with the federal government for information collections, analysis, and dissemination, according to the North Dakota Governor’s Office. 


Creating the government narrative 
In an October 3, 2016 TigerSwan document, security agents attempted to exploit internal divisions between Native Americans and “white allies,” saying that drug use and sexual activity persist among the activists, which at the time was closing in on 10,000 people. What was uncertain to TigerSwan operatives was the “number and type of weapons within the camps or who has been providing military-style training sessions.” 

Nearly every mainstream North Dakota media outlet used more ink to publish stories pertaining to local anger and trash pileups than actual events occurring along the Dakota Access Pipeline. Additionally, law enforcement tried to exacerbate the story that a journalist was attacked inside the camps on October 18. Phelim McAleer, from Ireland, was given permission to enter the camps and soon began asking pointed question about activists being hypocritical, he said. 

McAleer is known as a pro-oil public relations agitator, and ‘professional character assassin’ by many. 

TigerSwan disseminated a Powerpoint report citing positive and negative aspects of the controversy. 

“Positive – Sheriff’s Association continues to publish positive news stories. Local news media is highlighting negative effects the protesters are having to the area.”

“Negative – Protesters continue posting anti-law enforcement anti-DAPL content on social media in order to garner sympathy and support for their cause.”  

TigerSwan also became the law enforcements’ ‘weatherman,’ posting the week’s predicted weather patterns. 

On the south side of the camps, activists held daily classes teaching newcomers about passive resistance tactics, incessantly stressing the importance of non-violent methods. Rules were posted on a large board outside the tent’s entrance. 

Direct Action classroom tent – photo by C.S. Hagen

In the Sacred Stone Camp, medical massages were available for those suffering from muscle or bone injuries. Multiple kitchens were usually busy, either feeding those inside the camps or running food and coffee out to lookout sites. 

Many people wore knives at their belt, a common tool for anyone living in the wilderness. Morton County Sheriff’s Department reported no weapons were found within the camps at any time. Morton County Public Information Officer Maxine Herr added that the department received reports of weapons – other than survival tools – spotted in vehicles and elsewhere. 

Early during the controversy, either due to faulty information from the FBI’s informant, or due to a cultural misunderstanding, Morton County Sheriff’s Department reported knowledge of pipe bombs, which turned out to be ceremonial pipes. When asked about the claim during an interview, Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney told reporters that tribal leaders said pipe bombs were being made inside the camps.

In 2016, Morton County law enforcement agencies received 8,033 reports, of which 5,257 were verified offenses, Herr stated. 

“September to December, when protesters were her in mass, showed a significant uptick,” Herr said. 

Typically, monthly calls for assistance and crime reports average nearly 400 per month in Morton County, according to police records. In 2016, reports began increasing across the county in June, climaxing at 1,159 reports in September, and slowly decreasing until December with 895 reports called in. Numbers reflect all calls made to Morton County pertaining to any situation, not specifically related to the DAPL controversy.  

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault and other leaders insisted on peaceful protest and prayer.  Signs were posted at the camps’ entrances not allowing weapons or drugs. Although the camps temporarily became North Dakota’s tenth largest community, few real crimes were reported from within the activists’ camps.

TigerSwan also arranged meetings with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to documents. In October 2016, the security company also stated activists will continue to “riot” and force law enforcement to respond with violence. The concern revolved around the pipeline project, however, and not the potential life of a human being. 

“The use of force or death of a protester or rioter will result in the immediate halt to DAPL operations, which will likely permanently halt the entire project,” the October report stated. 

Daily intelligence information from TigerSwan to law enforcement

TigerSwan operatives were also concerned about peaceful activists. “It is important to weed out the non-aggressive groups as they will drain our resources in the wrong direction with no effect to our client.” 

TigerSwan was also seeking information at the time when former Governor Jack Dalrymple attempted to enforce fines on what people in his administration termed as “terrorists,” – anyone traveling the roads to the camps and on local sympathizers providing support, logistics, and “potentially shelter for those committing criminal acts.” 


Fall From Grace

Local pastor claims racism and church infighting behind her sudden dismissal
UPDATE: Protesters picket church Wednesday evening, story at bottom

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO – For years, Pastor Grace Murray opened the doors of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ to New Americans and the LGBT community, and then she was fired.

Despite a massive banner hanging outside the 90-year-old structure at 901 Broadway, declaring “We leave judging to God,” Murray and church members said the church council fired her suddenly, May 31, because of racism exhibited by the “old guard” at the church, effectively turning their backs on the church’s tenets of being accepting of everyone – no matter race, economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or mental or physical ability.

The official reason differs.

“You have recently received notification of the upcoming meeting to be held on Wednesday, May 31, 2017 to terminate our Pastoral Call Agreement with Pastor Grace Murray,” the church letter informing its members stated. “To insure the financial future of Plymouth United Church of Christ we believe a change must be made.”

Pastor Grace Murray, formerly of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, after she was fired – photo by C.S. Hagen

“The stated reason was that the church finances could not support a full-time pastor, however, there was never a request to negotiate a possible part-time call,” Murray said. “We actually were about three-quarters of the way through a process of mediation, and instead of paying face to that process, there were some folks that called for a special meeting. I know some of the things that have been said were my sermons are too political.”

According to the church’s Constitution and bylaws, a majority vote must pass in order to fire the pastor. The church’s council voted 42 for dismissal, and 22 for keeping Murray as pastor, however; two of the people who voted were not church members, according to emails.

Church council members were contacted for comment, but few replied. Church council members approached Murray days after she was fired saying that the church will adhere to her hiring contract, which stipulates 90 days written notice before termination of employment.

“The special meeting was called to ‘terminate the Pastoral Call Agreement,’ to say ‘You are being laid off. You no longer have a position with us,’” Rosella Jangula, the financial secretary, wrote in an email. “An employer doesn’t have to give employees a 90-day notice before laying them off.”

At the pulpit delivering the sermon on Sunday stood former Nazarene Pastor Mervin Leroy Kelley, of Fergus Falls, Minnesota, who was convicted by jury of criminal sexual conduct in 2000. Kelley was convicted on two third-degree criminal sex conduct charges and sentenced to 48 months imprisonment in the Ottertail County Jail, according to the Minnesota Judicial Branch.   

When Callie DeTar arrived at church Sunday, she also noticed the Pennies For Heaven jar was empty. Pennies For Heaven is a donation jar used to buy gifts such as food or clothing for the area’s needy.

“I came in yesterday and the entire bag of money was missing,” DeTar said. “The consensus is that it was taken and deposited into the church’s funds, and it’s not the church’s money, it’s the community’s money. I don’t know if I want to call the police or what.”

Nearly every church council member has left, she said. She too is preparing to leave the church, and stated that the ‘old guard’ in the church refuse to talk further about the issues.

“Nobody wants to say anything. Everyone is tucking in their tails and running.”

Members state years of infighting stem in part due to racial ignorance and racial fear after Murray rented out space to Pastor Gabriel Barbly and the Bethel World Outreach Church – Fargo. The meeting in which decided Murray’s fate became hostile, a yelling match, church members said. Moderator Tom Thoreson threatened to call police at one point during the meeting, according to church members.

Bethel World Outreach Church – Fargo – Facebook page

“They hate gay people, they hate black people, and it’s supposed to be an all-encompassing church,” DeTar, the church’s administrative assistant, said.

“I certainly think it could have been done differently, there’s an awful lot of hurt feelings,” Helen Goodfellow, involved with pastor relations, said. “It’s a very very nasty situation.”

The church has been in turmoil since before Murray rented the church basement to Barbly, former administrative assistant Timothy Shannon said. Services are attended primarily by African Americans.

“There was friction about particularly Pastor Gabriel’s church,” Murray said. “Things stated were the noise level, the disrespect, ‘we can’t get in the bathroom.’ That has not been a happy thing for people. Even things like, finding some small things wrong with their presence.

“And I did use the word, racism.”

Other church members said at least one person in the congregation felt violated after toys were used by those in Barbly’s growing church. Another member stated that the feelings stem from a type of jealousy, as Barbly’s church is growing faster than the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ’s congregation.

“They look at them like they’re third class steerage,” DeTar said. “The way they talk about them is so disrespectful, they won’t give them a name, even. They’re just really awful, sitting around talking about how the bathrooms are dirty, that they’re too loud, that they’re sneaky. Sure they’re loud, but they’re worshipping.”

“I think it’s 85 to 90 percent racism,” Jo Ann Ripplinger, a former church secretary and member of the church, said. “They use the budget as a stepping stone that she isn’t taking the church into the direction they want it to go. It’s depressing. They say there’s no racism here, and yet there is an undercurrent here of extreme racism and fear. They don’t understand them, or want to have anything to do with them.”

“They’ve also wanted to put the altar Bible back on the altar, and that’s anti-Semitic,” DeTar said. The altar Bible is the Holman Christian Standard Bible published in the 1930s, which advocated for the deportation of German Jews back to Germany.

At a time when small-town churches are dying due to a lack of funds, Murray’s move to rent out the space was a fiscally-sound move, Shannon said. A typical Sunday service attracts approximately 50 people, he said.

Sunday morning during service time, the church’s parking lot was less than half full.

“The argument that this is actually costing money, there’s no way this makes sense,” Shannon said.

The addition of Barbly’s church, however, disrupted the congregation’s social activity of having coffee downstairs after church services, he said. In the church’s front yard, prominently displayed, a sign advertises normal services at 10:30am., Barbly’s service at 11am, and Native American services at 4pm on Sundays.

“Their routine was disrupted by the African services, which by Midwestern Lutheran standards is loud and raucous,” Shannon said. “They took exception to that, to the noise. What it is, and you’re talking about only four or five people, but they are so loud, and they’re creating so much drama, so not only do you have the people who are openly anti-gay, and who are racist, but you also have the ones who say ‘I don’t want to have all this drama.’”

Murray, who is known by friends at times as “She who shall not be crossed,” is known as a LGBT advocate, someone who does not tolerate excuses, Shannon said.

“I saw her reduced to tears, and she is a tough lady. She also cares, and she’s human, not just because of the treatment she’s receiving, but because she understands if the LGBT community loses her, they lose a lot. She made it well known that there was a place for you.”

Bethel World Outreach Church – Fargo is part of the Bethel World Outreach Ministries International, an evangelical and revival-focused organization.

Although theological differences exist between Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, a progressive, non-denominational organization, and the Bethel World Outreach Church – Fargo, Murray and Barbly said they were a good fit.

“The United Church of Christ as a denomination is openly welcoming of people regardless of any type of life,”Murray said. “I talked to Pastor Gabriel about that, and for them, at that time, two years ago, people cannot become members who are in the LGBT community, but can worship, which was big step forward.

Barbly said there were never problems over differing doctrines between the churches.

“We had an understanding,” Murray said. “And that’s a deep cultural thing for them as they’ve come from a place where LGBT people can be murdered.”

“Lily white and albinos,” Shannon said. “Now, all the sudden you bring in all these black people, and they dress by Lutheran standards, a little garishly. Growing up in Africa where they were from, they prayed at night to not be kidnapped and murdered. They’re in a situation now where they can watch their kids wish for ponies.”

Pastor Gabriel Barbly and family – Facebook page

Barbly, originally from the Bong Mine Community in Bong County, Liberia, is listed as a pastor since 2013, according to Liberty University Alumni records. He pays $600 a month for use of the Fellowship Hall in the basement, but is unsure of the future.

“Now that she is gone, we don’t know what is going to happen,” Barbly said.

Although Barbly admits not knowing the inner workings of Murray’s church, some members of his congregation have had bad experiences. “Some people have yelled, saying we should leave the church,” Barbly said.

Ripplinger joined the church because of Murray, she said, and was one of two new members in 2016. “She was very open,” Ripplinger said. “She didn’t have any prejudices.”

Murray is a champion in Fargo for LGBT, Native American, and New American rights, Ripplinger said, and the problems began before she was hired. “There was this undercurrent of people not accepting what she was trying to do. She referred to it as the ‘Old Guard,’ and it is.”

Once during a meeting, church council members were discussing how to increase membership and appeal more to the younger generation. “Not one question was directed toward the younger people at the meeting,” Ripplinger said. “Nobody came up with an idea.”

“The other thing was we had Christmas Eve services, and all three congregations were supposed to be all together, but not one person from our congregation showed up, other than the people who were required to be there.

“That’s despicable.”

Murray, who wished for one last Sunday in the church she led for five years, hinted at the confusion in her last service on May 28.

“When I began this sermon, I admitted that I am worried about our church,” Murray said during the sermon. “I know that many of you are as well. I am worried imagining the time when I no longer serve this church as pastor, whenever that may be. Some of you are worried about the day when this church will finally close its doors, whenever that may be. Others are worried because we have lost sight of the first things.”

Part of the congregation is grieving, and will be leaving with her, she said. She planned to hold her first Sunday service in South Fargo, which coincidentally landed on Day of the Pentecost, the original “birthday of the church,” she said.

“Maybe we are being pushed out to birth a church,” she said.

Murray wants to remain in the Fargo/Moorhead area, but the life of a startup pastor is difficult.

“I am a pastor at heart, so I’m seeking a call,” she said. She was ordained in 2007, and is a graduate of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. She grew up in the South with segregated bathrooms, “colored wards” in hospitals, but has been known as a voice for inclusion in Fargo/Moorhead since her arrival.

“I’ve had people standing behind me before,” Murray said. “Now they’re standing beside me, and speaking out.”

The Plymouth Congregational Church arrived in Fargo with the Northern Pacific Railroad, setting up its first structure at the corner of Ninth Street and Ninth Avenue in 1882, according to church records. It was moved during the winter of 1884 where Plymouth Apartments now stand, and continued until 1890 when a windstorm destroyed the building. The current building was finished in 1927.


Update: Protesters Picket Local UCC Church After Pastor Fired 

By C.S. Hagen
– A years-long struggle for dominance inside the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ hasn’t ended with the pastor’s dismissal. On one side is Grace Murray, a progressive pastor, and her supporters; on the other side is the “old guard,” those who led the crusade to fire her. 

Murray and her supporters claim racism was involved in her May 31 dismissal. Responsible church council members refuse to comment, citing only in emails and official letters that the church could no longer afford a full-time pastor. 

One week after Murray was fired from the 135-year-old church, protesters from Fargo and Moorhead picketed the building demanding an end to racism and homophobia. They also wanted Murray to be treated fairly by the church council.

Protesters gather outside of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ – photo by C.S. Hagen

The decision to fire Murray came after a special meeting was called on May 31, and after a vote – 42 for dismissal, and 22 for keeping her as pastor – Murray was dismissed. The church’s Constitution states that a majority vote by the church council and members is needed in order for a dismissal to pass. Church members claim that two votes during the process were invalid. 

According to Murray’s contract, she is entitled to 90 days forewarning, however; she did not preach last Sunday. Former Nazarene Pastor Mervin Leroy Kelley, of Fergus Falls, Minnesota, who was convicted by jury of criminal sexual conduct in 2000, took her place. Kelley was convicted on two third-degree criminal sex conduct charges and sentenced to 48 months imprisonment in the Ottertail County Jail, according to the Minnesota Judicial Branch.

“You are being laid off. You no longer have a position with us,’” Rosella Jangula, the financial secretary, wrote to Murray in an email. “An employer doesn’t have to give employees a 90-day notice before laying them off.”

On Wednesday, Murray’s daughter, Elizabeth Dill, held a placard that read: “She was not fired over money. She was fired for doing her job.”

“She has stood by what the UCC stands for,” Dill said. “And they have not. They’re piggybacking on everything that she’s worked so hard for.” 

Protester holds up a sign – photo by C.S. Hagen

She described the years-long ordeal within the church, the controversy between what Murray described as the “old guard” and Murray’s progressive outreach, took a mental and physical toll on her mother. 

“I don’t think I’ve ever see her so upset,” Dill said. 

“I saw her reduced to tears, and she is a tough lady,” former administrative assistant Timothy Shannon said. “She also cares, and she’s human, not just because of the treatment she’s receiving, but because she understands if the LGBT community loses her, they lose a lot. She made it well known that there was a place for you.”

Once the anticipation of her future role at the church at 901 Broadway ended on May 31, a weight was lifted off her shoulders, Dill said. “Now, she’s hit the ground running.” 

Murray, church members, and Dill, who is not affiliated with the church, said racism was behind the decision. The tensions between Murray and some church council members intensified after she rented the Fellowship Hall to Pastor Gabriel Barbly and the Bethel World Outreach Church – Fargo, which is a predominantly African American congregation.

In the church’s front yard, prominently displayed, a sign advertises normal services at 10:30am., Barbly’s service at 11am, and Native American services at 4pm on Sundays. A massive banner hangs outside the 90-year-old structure declaring “We leave judging to God.”

Moorhead resident, Katrina Jo Koesterman, is a “pastor’s kid,” and a member of the First Congregational Church of Christ in Moorhead. “I’ve struggled with my spirituality my entire life,” Koesterman said. “At UCC I can be me, and seeing a church bearing the UCC name and not living up to the UCC standard is discouraging.” 

Originally from Fargo, Koesterman moved to Minnesota as North Dakota’s health care is not trans-friendly, she said. She held a Pride flag poster saying “Never Giving Up,” and waived it at passing cars. Some honked, offered a thumb’s up. One black pickup truck revved its engine, shooting black exhaust smoke across the lawn, and then drove around the block for a repeat.

Koesterman decided to attend services in Moorhead after listening to a group of children one Sunday morning talking about the proper use of pronouns for trans people. 

A man who gave his name as Maike, originally from Virginia, moved to Fargo in 2009 for financial reasons. “Racism is everywhere,” Maike said. “It doesn’t matter where you are, but up here it is coated in sugar.” 

Dawn Lexvold, a member of the First Congregational Church of Christ in Moorhead, said she once considered the Plymouth church as her sister church. Church administration handled Murray’s situation poorly, like a “Seventh grade click-y bully,” she said. 

“My prayer for the whole thing is maybe there is a Y in the road, and another door will open,” Lexvold said. 

Most of the church council members have left, church administrative assistant Callie DeTar said. Murray’s supporters are being told not to bring up the issues any longer, she said. 

Reactions to Barbly’s church being “loud” took the forms of occasional insults and eventually into heated debates after Murray rented the basement to Barbly for $600 a month, DeTar and other church members stated. Church leaders threatened to call police during the special meeting called to fire Murray, church members stated, and Barbly admitted that some in his congregation have been yelled at. 

Additionally, church leaders are considering changing the altar Bible to the old Holman Christian Standard Bible published in the 1930s, which advocated for the deportation of German Jews back to Germany.

Donated funds for the Pennies For Heaven went missing on Sunday, DeTar said. Pennies For Heaven is a donation jar used to buy gifts such as food or clothing for the area’s needy.

Dill said her mother attempted to buyout the church’s stand for Pride in the Park, coming this August. The church refused, she said. 

“And she was told that they don’t know why she thinks that they don’t share the same values as her on LGBT people,” Dill said. “I’m pretty sure that feeling must have come from the fact that they have never once been with her to Pride in the Park, nor did they help me paint all the Pride flags on rocks. Or maybe it could be the fact every time she has walked in the Pride parade representing the church she walked alone.”



Standing Rock Leaders Acquitted 

Hundreds initially charged during the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy, dozens, so far, found not guilty or cases dropped

By C.S. Hagen
– Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II and Councilman Dana Yellow Fat were found not guilty Wednesday in a jury trial on charges of disorderly conduct.

Dave Archambault at police line August 2016

The charges stemmed from an August 12, 2016 incident near the Cannonball Ranch, where Archambault was filmed pushing his way through a police line, and Yellow Fat grabbed a police officer’s arm. The video was definitive proof of guilt to many critics, but not to Bismarck attorney Erica Shively, of Elsberry & Shively, P.C., who defended Archambault and Yellow Fat.  

“I also knew that police officers got in the way of my two clients headed down a public road that they had every right to travel down unrestricted by law enforcement,” Shively said. 

Mclean County State’s Attorney Ladd Erickson prosecuted the case for Morton County. The jury spent 10 minutes in deliberation before unanimously announcing a not guilty verdict, according to Shively. 

Yellow Fat was unsure of the outcome when he entered the courtroom, he said. 

“Anytime you leave a major decision in the hands of others, no matter how confident you are, there is always that agonizing little voice saying, ‘I hope they get it right,’” Yellow Fat said. 

“I really believe that justice is being served in many of the cases,” Yellow Fat said. “You can’t trample over people’s First Amendment rights to assemble and free speech without negative ramifications. Even if those ramifications are in the court of public opinion. The world watched as this unfolded, and now the world continues to watch it unfold in the court system. 

“These small victories in the court system are a definite positive for our constitutional rights.”

“The State has charged out many cases for which there is no where near adequate evidence to convict folks who were simply exercising their First Amendment rights,” Shively said. “I believe that the state is relying on its belief that the media has sufficiently tainted both the juries and judges in these matters to a point where they will get convictions on bad cases. Thankfully, we are seeing that both the judges and juries, while many may disagree with the position of protesters, they are not letting that affect their duty to deliver justice.”

“It’s really good to hear that Morton County justices are administering the law in this saga,” Chase Iron Eyes, an attorney who also faces felony charges incurred during the Dakota Access controversy, said. “Archambault as well as Councilman Dana Yellow Fat led the early stages of the No DAPL resistance. I fully support the adequate and zealous defense of over 800 people criminally charged in this historic battle.”

Iron Eyes, who ran for Congress in North Dakota last year, said the verdict gives him encouragement. No trial date has been set for his case yet. 

A total of 761 people were charged with crimes during the ten-month controversy, according to Morton County Sheriff’s Department. The movement drew more than 20,000 people from across the world to Standing Rock, and ran the state a bill in excess of $38 million, bringing in police from five different states, the National Sheriff’s Association, the mercenary outfit TigerSwan, and criticism from the United Nations. 

Dozens of activists’ cases stemming from the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy have been dismissed, with only a few being found guilty. On May 25, three felony and misdemeanor charges related to piloting a drone against Aaron Sean Turgeon, also known as ‘Prolific the Rapper,’ were dismissed after Surrogate Judge Allan L. Schmalenberger, a former North Dakota Supreme Court Justice, reviewed the case. Shively also defended Turgeon, she said. 

“Of course I knew I was not guilty, but proving it in court is an entirely different thing, and that’s what we did,” Turgeon said in a video outside of the Morton County Courthouse. He said friends and activists surrounded him when police attempted to confiscated his drone. Without their support, he would not have had the video evidence he needed to prove his innocence. 

“A lot of times what you’re being shown by police officers is not true, and I knew it, but it’s not about knowing it, it’s about proving it.” 

“The police officers were clearly coached by the State’s Attorney to fabricate evidence contrary to the facts by falsifying affidavits on their reports in support of their preliminary hearings,” cooperating attorney Danny Sheehan said. 

Aaron Sean Turgeon ‘Prolific the Rapper’ (right) – Facebook page

“Aside from the fact that we had a very thorough and fair judge in this case which made a huge difference, a lot of the basis for the success in the case today was the support of the water protectors and our client Sean’s video evidence that exposed the falsehoods in the state’s case,” cooperating attorney Doug Parr from Oklahoma City said. “One of my concerns is that the charges in this case appear to have been fabricated to justify the no-fly zone that was imposed in late October of last year.”

Ten cases were dismissed by the Morton County State’s Attorney office on May 9, and two other cases were also dismissed on March 30, according to the Water Protector Legal Collective. 

“Oil may be flowing under Lake Oahe, but the arc of the moral universe still bends toward justice,” The Water Protector Legal Collective stated in a press release. “Water protectors are winning the fight against the head of the “black snake” in the courts, and this Movement has inspired so many to continue this fight elsewhere. These are still sacred times.”

On May 18, the United States District Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by Dakota Access, LLC against Archambault, Yellowfat, and other activists. The pipeline company filed a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) lawsuit, after activists blocked the pipeline’s path in 2016. Dakota Access, LLP claimed it incurred damages of up to $75,000, but Judge Daniel Hovland found that DAPL could not prove its case, thus, the federal court had no jurisdiction.

While Standing Rock activists’ cases are being dismissed, the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline has already sprung two leaks, according to the Williston Herald, the Associated Press, and media outlet Business Insider.

Dana Yellow Fat – Facebook page

On March 3, 84 gallons spilled from a leak where two sections of the pipeline connect in Watford City, and then two days later a smaller leak of 20 gallons occurred in Mercer County, according to Business Insider

Yellow Fat is relieved to have the experience behind him, he said. 

“After 10 months, having my trial continued several times, and feeling the stress of deciding to testify or not, it’s a good feeling to put this behind us. My family has been totally supportive, and I appreciate everything they have done in spite of me having to face these charges. 

“To the hundreds still awaiting their day in court, stay positive, keep the faith, stay in prayer. Have faith in the system.” 

TigerSwan Counterterrorism Tactics Used to Defeat Dakota Access Pipeline “Insurgencies”

By C.S. Hagen
– Documents leaked to media outlet The Intercept showed private security firm TigerSwan worked closely with law enforcement from five different states, and used military-style counterterrorism measures against the movement opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline.  

Eviction Day at the camps outside of Standing Rock – photo by C.S. Hagen

Activists were identified, then tracked by name through sightings, Tweets, and Facebook posts. Protest sites were allocated numbers, and detailed accounts of day-by-day actions were monitored and reported to Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access, LLC. Police officers in areas along the pipeline route who were unwilling to make arrests were dealt with, according to documents, and TigerSwan mercenaries daily planned operations with local police. 

The result led to a massive misinformation campaign, the arrests of 761 activists, journalists, and Native Americans, and more than $38 million the state spent during the emergency state declared by former Governor Jack Dalrymple. In addition, at least three activists who joined the movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline, have been targeted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. 

TigerSwan communications described the movement as “an ideologically driven insurgency with a strong religious component,” comparing anti-pipeline activists to jihadist fighters, and stating the agency expected a “post-insurgency model after its collapse,” according to the documents. 

A September 13, 2016 situation report filed to Energy Transfer Partner Chief Security Officer John Porter by TigerSwan said the Dakota Access Pipeline was 99.98 percent on private land, for which all permissions had been obtained. 

In November 2016, however, Republican Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak stated in an interview that the pipeline is solely on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ lands and does not have even one case of eminent domain usage against a private individual. 

“All the easements were obtained voluntarily and only go through Corps land,” Fedorchak said.

TigerSwan’s agenda toward correcting and “guiding” the media was also evident as it continuously stressed its agents would be responsible for contacting the press with corrections to their outlined agenda.

TigerSwan Inc., with offices in Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, India, Latin America, and headquartered in North Carolina, has won more than 13 contracts with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security since 2014 worth more than $9 million, according to USASpending.gov. TigerSwan was founded by Delta Force veteran Jim Reese. The retired lieutenant colonel first worked for the State Department with counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan, and was also a former vice president of Blackwater Worldwide, “the world’s most powerful mercenary army,” according to a book written by Jeremy Scahill entitled “Blackwater The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.” 

The North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation looked into private security firms involved with the Energy Transfer Partners near Standing Rock Sioux Reservation last year, and whether the multiple companies involved were authorized to work in the state. The investigation has not led to any charges filed. 

The North Dakota Secretary of State holds one record for TigerSwan, LLC, established in Fargo on November 7, 2016, seven months after the controversy began. 

While North Dakota militarized its police and the state legislature attempted to criminalize many forms of protest last session, the fact that a private security firm retained by a tight-lipped, multi-billion dollar corporation has “profoundly anti-democratic implications,” according to The Intercept

The front line – photo by C.S. Hagen

While the controversy neared its end, an invisible enemy was reported extensively by activists present at the Standing Rock camps. Cellular phones were suddenly drained of power and rendered useless, hard drives were wiped clean. Electronic bugs were discovered inside the nearby Prairie Knights Casino, owned by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The attacks were considered “psychologically-driven” by nonprofit Geeks Without Bounds, who helped activists fight what it called “cyber warfare.” 

“While we were working in the NoDAPL camps, we knew that these tactics were being used,” Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said. “Our devices would stop working for periods of time, hard drives would be cleared of information and footage, and from time to time camp security would identify infiltrators inside the camp who were working for Energy Transfer Partners.”

In addition to the cyber warfare, at least one private security person attempted to infiltrate the camps, and one individual armed with a fake gun wrapped in duct tape was sighted. 

Brennon Nastacio and Kyle Thompson on October 27, 2016 – online sources

Kyle Thompson, of Bismarck, was disarmed by activists then turned over to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Thompson was later handed over to Morton County, and then released, called a victim. No charges were filed at that time, but Thompson was later arrested in an unrelated case on drug and weapons charges in April 2017 by Bismarck Police. 

“Now we have the evidence. This proof also tells us more about the militarization of the police and the violence they imposed on water protectors. By comparing indigenous peoples to civilians and jihadist fighters, police and security were essentially given permission to carry out war-like tactics on water protectors.” 

The activists who disarmed Thompson of an AR-15 as he was headed toward the main camp, Oceti Sakowin, face felony charges. 

Thompson worked for Thompson-Gray LLC, listed under Silverton Consulting International by the Ohio Secretary of State, according to paperwork discovered inside his truck. The company was not authorized to work in North Dakota, and was owned by Charles Graham Clifton, a man who has at least three civil lawsuits filed against him. 

TigerSwan has ingratiated itself with the National Sheriffs’ Association by becoming a silver partner, according to the National Sheriffs’ Association website. The National Sheriffs’ Association was involved heavily during the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy and wrote a letter the US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, demonizing unarmed activists and the federal government’s lack of response in what it called a deluge of arson, vandals, rioting, and intimidation. 

North Dakota is the second-biggest oil producing state in the United States, and has within its borders an oil patch among the ten largest in the world. Historically, the state been lackadaisical about instituting stricter regulations. A spirit of leniency toward oil companies has been fostered in North Dakota, analysts say. Criticism over lowering fines for oil and saltwater spills and property tax hikes to support big oil’s return have mounted. In January 2016 the North Dakota Industrial Commission, Oil and Gas Division agreed to scrutinize the issues, but behind closed doors. 

Law enforcement behind their own barricade – photo by C.S. Hagen

Some of the state’s top politicians are chairmen or members of regulating agencies governing big oil and Native American interests. Additionally, big oil supports the political campaigns of Senator John Hoeven, Senator Heidi Heitkamp, and Rep. Kevin Cramer, making their voices, according to some, tainted.

The cozy relationship between TigerSwan, law enforcement agencies, the National Sheriff’s Association, and the Peace Garden State’s politicians with the oil and gas industry suggests a partnership that threatens free speech, human rights, and the very basis of democracy. 

“The usage of counterterrorism tactics upon our NoDAPL movement is not only extremely disturbing, but feeds into a historical narrative of oppression that indigenous peoples and people of color have dealt with for generations,” Tom Goldtooth, also of he Indigenous Environmental Network stated. “Many of our brothers and sisters incarcerated across the country for their activism are political prisoners as a result of such disruptive tactics used by companies like TigerSwan.” 

Where have all the pollinators gone?

Will proposed budget cuts to the EPA and the formation of the state’s own Department of Environmental Quality hurt or help North Dakota’s bees?  

By C.S. Hagen
JAMESTOWN – Katrina Klett grew up running in fields with bees stinging her bare feet. Her parents constantly reminded her to put on shoes, but she rarely listened. 

Today, the family company she helps run in Jamestown, Klett Beekeeping, has more than 1,200 commercial bee colonies. She lives in southwest China, but returns home to help her father during the busier months. More than 10,000 miles away and at an elevation where any Red River Valley native would demand an oxygen tank, her main calling is with Elevated Honey Co., near the Himalayan Mountains in Yunnan Province, China. 

To Klett, bees are a part of her family. She learned the trade secrets from her father, from university professors, from Chinese mentors, and despite recent government attempts to bring back the honey bees, they’re still disappearing, she said. 

“The overall decline of the honey bee is continuing,” Klett said. Her family loses approximately 30 percent of their bees every year. “And the overall losses that beekeepers take during the winter months is still not sustainable.” 

The killers are elusive. She points to pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, but also to Asian parasites brought over from Korea in 1987 and most importantly, a lack of conservation lands, rich in diversity. 

“It’s truly not a smoking gun,” Klett said. “It’s not fair to say that it’s just pesticides causing these problems, but it’s a large part of it.” 

As the nation’s top honey producer and pollination state, North Dakota was also the first to draw up a pollinator plan, North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. It is a plan that will soon be adopted in 43 states. 

In North Dakota, sometimes the prairies are covered as far as the eye can see with only one crop. 

“The big problem in the United States is that we have this very large scale agricultural system and we’re finding out that bees find it very hard to live in this system,” Klett said. Herbicides and fertilizers and other chemicals are used to breed out unwanted plants, creating rows and rows of  homogenous corn, alfalfa, sugar beets. 

Nutrition in North Dakota is the biggest issue, Goehring said. “They [beekeepers] go and flood an area with pollinators where they may not be enough species, and enough pollen, and enough vegetation to support those bees.”

Colonies of bees are up across the state, Goehring said, from 480,000 colonies to 620,000 colonies. 

Colonies may have increased, but the bees are still disappearing, Klett said. “It is important to differentiate between Colony Collapse Disorder and the overall quality of health in bees that is going on.” 

Few such killers exist in China, Klett said. High up in the mountains, most farms are family owned, smaller and diverse in scale, offering bees a kaleidoscope of nectars and pollens. Most produce in China should not be eaten raw, as many farms still fertilize with “honey buckets” or human waste. Rice paddies hemmed by poppy, wildflowers, sunflowers growing next door to tiered layers of corn, are the traditional Chinese farmer’s methods. 

Additionally, restrictions for the Conservation Reserve Program were relaxed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2015. The Conservation Reserve Program offers federal money to farmers to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality. Such policies are shrinking the honey bee’s menu, according to Klett. 

Bees are not only the producers of honey, they help pollinate more than 35 percent of the world’s food supply, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Pollinators, including bats and birds, are crucial to the survival of more than just honey. 

The combination of a lack of nutrition, diversity, and Asian parasites, is lethal, and weaken bees, leaving them highly susceptible to chemicals used by farmers, Klett said. 

The missing bee – photo by C.S. Hagen

As recent as March this year, General Mills joined the fight against herbicides by pulling their mascot “Buzz” the bumblebee from their boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios as a reminder that the world’s population of bees is plummeting. The company has also sent out free seed packets, a move many find to be controversial and doing little to help the crisis. 

The main herbicidal producer in America, the Monsanto Company, declares itself as a farmer-empowering agricultural company and a producer of seed brands like corn, cotton, oilseeds, fruits, and vegetables. Monsanto also manufactures Roundup-branded herbicides for farmers and lawns, according to its website. Roundup products are a known stressor of bees, according to media outlet Natural News. Glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide, eliminates bees’ instincts to feed and confuses olfactory memory. 

Certain types of bees have been placed on the endangered species list, and as of January 2017 some have been nearly wiped out with one dose of Monsanto’s Roundup products, according to media outlet GMO News.  

“Honey bee navigation is affected by ingesting traces of the most widely used herbicide worldwide [glyphosate], with potential long-term negative consequences for colony foraging success,” The Journal of Experimental Biology reported. 

Additionally, the same herbicide is known to have negative effects on vertebrates and invertebrates, including earthworms, reproduction cycles of freshwater snails, according to The Journal of Experimental Biology. A 2016 study made public by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration reported that honey samples from across the United States all contain glyphosate, a chemical that is considered a probable human cancer-causing carcinogen by the World Health Organization. 

Other chemicals known as carcinogenic to humans are: tetrachlorvinphos, used on livestock and pet flea collars; parathion, now illegal in the USA; malathion, used in agriculture, public health, and residential insect control, and diazinon, current restricted.  


Colony Collapse Disorder
Bee losses hit 42.1 percent across the nation, according to a 2015 report made public by the United States Department of Agriculture. Losses are heaviest during the spring and summer months, the time of year farmers spray pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and use artificial fertilizers on their fields.  

Bees hit with fungicide are three times more prone to infection, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2013, researchers collected pollen samples from honey bees pollinating apples, watermelons, cucumbers, blueberries, and other fruits and found most samples contained insecticides, herbicides, and that all samples contained fungicide.  

The sickness threatens Colony Collapse Disorder, which endangers “not only pollination and honey production but, much more, this crisis threatens to wipe out production of crops dependent on bees for pollination,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Pollination is responsible for $15 billion in added crop value, particularly for specialty crops such as almonds and other nuts, berries, fruits, and vegetables.”  

The epidemic began slowly after World War II, and more recently noted as isolated incidents when beekeepers reported losses of up to 90 percent of their hives. 

“Although pesticides alone have not been implicated as the principal cause of overall pollinator declines, the EPA and the USDA have been working collaboratively to understand the potential role that pesticides may be playing, particularly in combination with other identified factors,” a 2015 report made public by the U.S. Department of Agriculture stated. 

More than 87 million acres of corn and 17 million acres of alfalfa are planted in the continental United States each year, and both crops are highly attractive to bees, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Gary Hart, director of the Center for Rural Health, said he lives in the countryside. Pesticides blown by winds are a concern for him and his family. “Heaven knows, I get the pesticides coming in and we have to shut the windows and hide when they’re blowing,” he said.  

The concern about bees is a national worry, he said, and not just for the Peace Garden State.


EPA cuts and the state taking back control
Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency for North Dakota is managed from Denver, Colorado, more than 700 miles away. North Dakota is known as Region 8, and as the EPA prepares to have its budget cut by up to 30 percent, environmental issues in the state could have “severe” implications, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. 

“North Dakota has a lot at risk,” Steve Hirsh of the Environmental Defense Fund said. “A half-million people in the state rely on headwater, rain-fed and seasonal streams for drinking water.”

The cuts are a Republican effort to deplete federal authority and push local management back on to cash-strapped states, according to Hirsh. Goehring prefers the term “cooperative federalism,” he said. 

“This budget, if enacted, will devastate the ability of our state members to clean up the air,” Executive Director of the  National Association of Clean Air Agencies S. William Becker said. “I can predict with certainty that if these budget cuts come to fruition, there will be many more people dying prematurely and getting sick.”

“President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget is a full-scale attack on America’s most fundamental health and safety protections,” Environmental Defense Fund President President Fred Krupp said. “It would gut our ability to keep our air and water clean, and would put the health of all Americans at risk.”

North Dakota’s current environmental agencies are a “convoluted complex animal,” and include three entities: the Health Department, soon to severed and become the “Department of Environmental Quality” and will be in charge of environmental issues, the Department of Mineral Resources, in charge of oil and gas development, and the Department of Agriculture, in charge of pesticides and fertilizers, all of whom have primacy, or the lead against federal interference, Goehring said. 

“We have cooperation agreements with the EPA, and we have meetings with them once or twice a year and talk about where the federal government is needed, but it ends up being a bit of a battle at times,” Goehring said. “The only thing is, we do receive federal grants to do the work, that’s the agreement we have with them, in other words they don’t have personnel out here to do it, and quite frankly we don’t want them up here anyway. 

“Don’t tell us you love our land more than we do.” 

Grants up to $46 million from the EPA cover a fourth of North Dakota’s air quality monitoring, toxic waste site management, lake and river protection, and manage 128 brownfields, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. Budget cuts proposed by President Trump’s Administration to balance the national debt could reduce lead reduction efforts and exacerbate poisoned waters with runoff pollution from urban streets and energy production, if such programs continue to exist at all. 

“Are they cuts that exist within the EPA, or will they be passed on to us?” Goehring said. “We have had some assurances from D.C. that the cuts will be supposedly targeted toward the EPA and not targeted toward the states. Maybe we will experience a few cuts, but most cuts are directed toward the big monster that the EPA is in size.” 

Other programs such as fighting cyanobacteria, judicially known as “blue-green algae,” may be threatened. Cyanobacteria are microscopic organisms that bloom in slow-moving water, such as ponds and lakes, and can be toxic for animals and humans, according to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. If such toxins are ingested, there is no cure, and very few laboratories that can test for cyanobacteria.  

Bakken earth is poisoned, according an April 27, 2016 study released by Duke University, funded by the National Science Foundation, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and published in the Environmental Science & Technology magazine. The study shows that accidental wastewater spills from “unconventional oil production in North Dakota have caused widespread water and soil contamination.” 

Much of the poisons come from brine, or saltwater used in frakking, and is non-biodegradable. 

In a move some call wise, state legislators passed Senate Bill 2327 shortly before the end of the 2017 legislative session. The bill was introduced by Republican senators Jessica Unruh, Kelly Armstrong, and Rich Wardner, and Republican representatives Al Carlson, Keith Kepmenich, and Todd Porter.

The bill transfers all state authority, powers, and duties related to environmental quality to the newly-formed “Department of Environmental Quality” before July 1, 2019. The new department’s duties will include oil drilling regulations and to pesticide and radioactive “byproduct material” management. Also included under the department’s purview are zoning regulations, or setback distances between livestock, residential, and agricultural operations, and the licensing, management, and custody of radioactive and hazardous wastes and underground storage or regulated substances.

The council is to consist of nine members appointed by the governor, including four people in the healthcare field and five people representing consumer interests, according to Senate Bill 2327. The director of the department will “serve at the pleasure of the governor,” must have a bachelor of science degree or higher from an accredited college, and may not engage in any other occupation or business that conflicts with statutory duties. 

The North Dakota Century Code was amended to reinforce Department of Environmental Quality as the public health authority in the state, trumping the EPA.


Communication and location are the keys
Beekeepers need to look for locations with plenty of diversity and water, Goehring said. “Bees need water just like any other animal. Look to soil health, especially for vegetables and flowering plants.” 

Phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium, as well as other minerals are needed for plant virility and diversity, and the more diverse an area is, the faster bees will thrive. Chemicals, although harmful, aren’t the main factor behind bee disappearance, Goehring said.

“A lot of pesticides that farmers use won’t even harm bees, but there are a lot of insecticides that will,” Goehring said. Beekeepers and bees are farmers’ guests, and there needs to be good communication between agriculturalists and beekeepers. 

Klett added that the federal government should assist more with communication incentives, and the tightening of regulations on Conservation Reserve Programs. “One of the biggest problems is the complete loss of bee habitat in the countryside.” Most of the time farmers care about beekeepers, although some beekeepers have reported careless farmers. “For the most part, they really want to work with us and help us out. Big fruit and vegetable producers need our services, but we’re finding out that if there isn’t a pesticide free habitat then the bees get sick and they don’t do well. 

“It’s a rock and hard place.” 

China’s farmers may possess the only true antidote for bee virility, and the answer lies with diversity. “China is one of the most diverse places for honey bees in the world,” Klett said. 

“Beekeeping is an interesting form of agriculture. You can’t make it mechanized. You have to have someone who really understands bees. There are just 1,000 or so families providing most of the pollination services and to an extent, they are largely invisible. 

“I would like to see a good Conservation Reserve Program come back. Commodity prices are down, this would be a great time to do that.” 

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