MORTON COUNTY, ND (KFYR) — The fall harvest in Morton County, North Dakota is moving slower this year, not due to weather, but because of environmental protests.
Farmers bringing in the 2016 crop have had to work around Dakota Access Pipeline protests for the past two months.
The tension producers are feeling has escalated to dangerous levels.
When Jared Ernst heads out to work his fields, he’s carrying an extra piece of equipment.
“I’ve been carrying a sidearm on me everywhere I go. I have a small revolver that I carry, my wife has started carrying, a bunch of the neighbors have started carrying firearms in their vehicles. I think there are some that are carrying on them like I am, you just don’t know,” says Ernst.
Ernst says his decision to arm himself stems from an incident that occurred when he says Dakota Access Pipeline protesters drove through his alfalfa field to unload a trailer of horses.
Ernst says the confrontation ended without incident, but he’s now erring on the side of caution.
“It’s a last measure, first step is if anything happens, call law enforcement. I visited with a couple of deputies this morning, they said by all means carry. Protect yourselves, if there’s an altercation call them, and if it escalates to a point where you’re in fear of your life, do what you need to, to protect yourself,” says Ernst.
Cody Hall, the spokesmen for the Red Warrior camp says none of the demonstrators are violent.
“We don’t have a weapons so those that are arming themselves in a war are being fear mongered by officials,” says Hall. “We’re a very compassionate, loving people and that consists of everyone at the camp.”