19 Arrested for Trespassing in Pilot Mound while Protesting Bakken Pipeline Project

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PILOT MOUND, Iowa -- "I don`t have a heart anymore. They cut my heart out," said 57 year-old Wes Phipps. For those who have longstanding ties to this land, like Phipps, the construction of the Bakken pipeline is an emotional issue. Phipps uses words like corruption to discuss the eminent domain that's allowing the pipeline project to happen. "To see a corporation come in here and violate the eminent domain law that should prevent private use of private owned land, I`m really disappointed in my elected officials for not protecting those rights," said Phipps.

Phipps, a landowner, says he's even been intimidated and he doesn't like it. "I  had my driveway blocked about a week ago, and I wasn`t very friendly with the man, and I told him to get his truck out of my driveway, and he threatened to arrest me, and I asked him for what, and I asked what his name was and his badge number and he wouldn`t give that to me, but it was just intimidation. And so, they`ve kind of rubbed the hair on the tomcat the old wrong direction," said Phipps.

Protester Mark Edwards raised concerns over what he says could happen to all that crude oil if there's a spill. "If we have an earthquake or we have a leak, the people in Boone, where I live now, will not have any water system. We get our water directly out of this river. You people in Des Moines won`t have water," said Edwards.

The protest on Saturday lasted hours and took place on a property at 130th street by the Des Moines River. 11 State Troopers and 9 Sheriff's Deputies were on hand to keep the peace. "That`s trespassing, if they're standing on that driveway and not allowing equipment to come in and out, that’s when we step in. We give them fair warning to leave and if they don’t, that’s when we arrest them," said Sergeant Cole Hoffman with the Boone County Sheriff's Office.

Despite the arrests, law enforcement officials say they support the first amendment rights of the protesters to peacefully protest the project, but they do add that monitoring the protest takes resources away from other duties. Lieutenant Mark Stine with the Iowa State Patrol said "I had to pull these guys off their regular assignments to come here and assist with this. I actually have troopers here out of four different districts to do this...it limits manpower out on the road."

It's an inconvenience for law enforcement, but for landowners, they say it's a small price to pay for what they feel is being lost.  "Corruption is alive and well and this pipeline is proof of it," said Phipps.


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