A pair of journalists released video footage showing protesters hassling and allegedly holding them hostage during an anti-oil pipeline rally 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 journalists were conducting interviews at the Sacred Stone Camp where protesters have gathered to prevent the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline. They released video footage Saturday of their harrowing run-in Saturday.
McAleer asked the protesters why they used gas-powered vehicles as a means of travel to a rally meant to permanently halt the construction of an oil pipeline. The interview went off the rails shortly thereafter.
“One protester grabbed my microphone and dragged me across the field,” McAleer told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement. “We fled to our car but were blocked in by trucks and people and prevented from leaving. That’s when the nightmare began.”
“He’s in the wrong place to ask that kind of stuff,” one of the protesters can be heard saying. The same person later told another protester “to make sure that his video footage is deleted.”
The scuffle eventually led McAleer, Segieda, and a local photojournalist to flee to their vehicle with protesters nipping at their heels.
The journalists barricaded themselves in their SUV and called the cops, while a throng of protesters can be heard shouting, “we’ll never let you leave with the footage,” and, “you have to understand, these people will have a stand-off with the cops.”
The protesters, many of which can be seen wearing masks in the video, corralled the three journalists toward the entrance of the campsite, closed the gate, and blocked their exit with a truck.
The Morton County Police Department eventually arrived on scene with a police helicopter and a SWAT team at the ready in the event the confrontation escalated into something much worse. A spokesman with the police department told TheDCNF Thursday 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.
The Irish journalist 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.
The nearly 1,200-mile long Dakota Access Pipeline has lit a firestorm of controversy, culminating in protesters and members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe holding up camp near pipeline construction site. They argue the project will trample on tribal lands and destroy artifacts and poison waterways, including rivers such as the Missouri River and Lake Oahe.
The situation in the area is growing worse, law enforcement officials argue, because out-of-state foreigners are flocking to North Dakota. Local officials also believe the federal government is turning a blind eye, perhaps in an effort to keep the budding public relations disaster contained in the state.
Federal officials are still refusing to evict members of the tribe and protesters hunkered down at an anti-pipeline encampment near the hotly contested pipeline. 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.
The federal government has also allegedly refused to allocate sources to local law enforcement to help them deal with the uprising.
National Sheriff’s Association Executive Director Jonathan Thompson told members of the association in an internal email that the Department of Justice refused to deploy federal resources to the Morton County Police in an effort to tamp down some of the unrest happening in the area.
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