Protesters allegedly intimidated and held a crew of journalists hostage Tuesday at one of the Dakota oil pipeline protests in North Dakota.
Activists associated with the Dakota Access Pipeline protests threatened to slash journalists Phelm McAleer and Magdalena Segieda’s tires and seize their filming equipment. The two reporters were conducting interviews at the Sacred Stone Camp where protesters have gathered to prevent the construction of an oil pipeline.
Federal officials are refusing to evict those hunkered down at the anti-pipeline encampments near the highly controversial, $3.8 billion project. Officials believe booting the protesters would harm free speech rights, despite the fact that the land is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“Someone out of the blue started attacking, tried to steel our microphone,” McAleer told The Daily Caller News Foundation, prompting his crew to flea to their vehicle as protesters followed close behind.
The protesters then pounced on the vehicle, pounding on its windows and demanding the crew inside turn around and head toward the press tent so they could confiscate McAleer’s camera footage.
His crew “took advantage of the gap” and made a b-line for the exit, but the protesters noticed McAleer doubling back, and quickly closed the gate, locked it, essentially barricading the journalists inside.
The Morton County Police Department eventually arrived on the scene with a police helicopter and a SWAT team at the ready in the event the confrontation grew more out of control. A spokesman with the police department told TheDCNF that the situation is currently under investigation.
The entire 30-minute ordeal was “terrifying,” McAleer said, adding: “I’ve seen and experienced some hair-raising things during my time in Northern Ireland but nothing like this.”
McAleer is known for covering the Northern Ireland peace process in the late-1990s and for producing “FrackNation,” a 2013 documentary meant to address misinformation about hydraulic fracking.
They are against oil pipelines, McAleer said, but use fossil fuel-burning cars, as well as plastic tools while campaigning against the project. The attacks came shortly after he started questioning the protests inconsistent message.
The nearly 1,200-mile long pipeline has come under withering scrutiny from protesters and members of the Standing Rock Sioux, both of which argue the pipeline’s construction would trample on tribal lands and destroy artifacts. They also argue it could potentially poison waterways, including rivers such as the Missouri River and Lake Oahe.
McAleer’s experience came shortly after reports that protesters were “armed, hostile, and engaged in training exercises” meant to “promote violence.”
Protesters and members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe are illegally occupying vast stretches of private property in and around Dakota Access Pipeline construction cites, Mercer County Sheriff Dean Danzeisen wrote in an Oct. 4 letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
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