Thirty opponents of the Dakota Access pipeline were arrested Wednesday while blocking entrances to a pipeline construction site in Boone County. The county Sheriff’s Department said they were charged with the simple misdemeanor of trespassing.
"[I’m] nervous, this will be my first arrest since I was 14,” confided Crystal Defatte of Bettendorf, as she walked to the pre-selected protest site. "I have three children, and they deserve to inherit a world with clean drinking water.”
In addition to water pollution, the group took issue with increasing the production of fossil fuel and the use of eminent domain for the pipeline’s construction. They also accuse the pipeline of being unsafe.
Pipeline proponents argue a pipeline is a far safer way to transport crude oil, as opposed to freight rail, and that the oil benefits Iowans as more crude will lower fuel costs. They also cite the number of construction jobs the pipeline creates.
The entire group of protesters totaled about 150. They chanted phrases including, “Keep it in the ground,” "We stand with Standing Rock," and, “No eminent domain for private gain.”
Protestors not wanting to be arrested moved aside when directed by law enforcement, but cheered in support of those being lead away in plastic zip-tie restraints.
The demonstration lasted about two-and-a-half hours. People were cooperative with law enforcement and never became violent.
“They’re doing their job, and they’re really fair and decent to us,” says lead organizer Ed Fallon of the law enforcement. “It’s our political leadership that’s failed us, and the incredible power that big money has to manipulate government to its purposes.”
One comical moment came when a woman asked a State Patrol officer if she could use a portable toilet near the entrance of the construction site.
“I mean that’s your call,” replied Major Randy Kunert. “That’s part of going with your freedom of speech, if you need to use the bathroom.”
Dakota Access’s parent company Energy Transfer Partners declined to comment on the protest, though the company attempted to have a restraining order placed against protestors.
“We’ll be back soon, I don’t know about tomorrow…this is the prelude,” says Fallon, who promises future protests.
The Dakota Access pipeline route begins in North Dakota, travels through South Dakota and Iowa, and terminates in Illinois. Within Iowa, the pipeline will stretch approximately 348 miles through 18 Iowa counties.
The pipeline is intended to eventually carry as many as 570,000 barrels of crude oil a day from the Bakken and Three Forks oil fields to Patoka, IL.