Actively defending the Dakota Access Pipeline, police force two activists from restaurant after asking them to come to their table
By C.S. Hagen
MANDAN – Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney and Mandan Police Chief Jason Ziegler called Liz George and Kana Newell over to their table while they were eating at the Chinese restaurant Rice Bowl.
And then, in true “North Dakota nice” spirit, they kicked them from the premises. Before kicking the two women out, they threatened arrest. George was wearing her “Water is Life” badge on the back of her clothing.
“We were eating dinner and on our way out of Mandan when two police officers, the sheriff and one other called us over to talk,” George reported. According to George’s Facebook page, she is from Michigan.
“His [Laney] first question was, ‘How long are you going to be here for?’ To which we replied, ‘As long as the pipeline is proceeding,’” Newell reported. Newell’s Facebook page reports she is from Australia. “He immediately replied with ‘Well, that’s just not going to happen.’
“We asked why he thought that, and we were genuinely curious to the police perspective and want to bridge the gap between the two sides,” Newell said.
“We tried to have a polite conversation with them listening to their side and when they didn’t like what we were saying they ordered us to leave the restaurant saying that we had two minutes to leave before we would be arrested,” George said.
Recent events were brought up during the discussion, including Sunday night’s conflict when law enforcement used rubber bullets, concussion grenades, tear gas, pepper spray and a high-powered water cannon against activists.
“Things got heated and we asked them to hold space for us to speak, as the conversation was basically his voice speaking over ours,” Newell said. “We tried to tell him our perspective, but he wasn’t open to listen and ordered us to leave as soon as the conversation wasn’t going his way.”
And then, Laney threatened arrest, Newell said.
“What are you going to arrest us for?” George said on the video.
“Disorderly conduct,” Ziegler said.
“We asked you to leave so that these gentlemen can enjoy their meals and we can enjoy our meals,” Ziegler said. “This is a private restaurant.”
“We tried to have a conversation and it’s not going anywhere,” Laney said.
“Okay, can I just say that you guys called us over to talk to us?” George said. “So you have authority…?”
She was interrupted when Ziegler stood and confronted her, forcing her back.
“I’m going to tell you one more time to leave this restaurant. Go ahead, video tape me,” Ziegler said.
“Now you got about two seconds to go, okay guys,” Laney said. “Let us eat our dinner in peace. Have a good night.”
An elderly woman watching nearby told the two women to go home.
“We are home.”
The women are known as water protectors by the Standing Rock Sioux, and as protesters by law enforcement. They’re part of the months-long controversy surrounding the USD 3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, which is slated to run less than a mile away from the Standing Rock’s reservation. Dakota Access LLC is the subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners, which combined with Sunoco Logistics Partners on Monday. Energy Transfer Equity controls both companies, according to media outlet Fortune.
Both Laney and Ziegler were contacted for comment late Tuesday evening in this developing story. The Rice Bowl was also contacted for comment, but the restaurant had already closed for the evening.