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Local View: Where's any respect from pipeline protesters?

From the column: "I fully support our freedom of speech. ... But violence, breaking the law, or putting others in danger can never be justified in the name of a cause."

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Two protesters stand on a flipped over vehicle Wednesday in northern Minnesota's Savanna State Forest. The protesters created two blockades to Enbridge Line 3 worksites. (Submitted photo)

I have been working on the Line 3 pipeline project since the first segment was replaced in 2017 in Wisconsin. I have been an operator since 1999 and recently became a pipeline business agent.

I have seen firsthand the disrespectful actions and remarks directed at us Line 3 pipeline workers from protesters. I have watched as they have attempted to smash the windows of our machines — with our operators still inside. I have witnessed their decimation of valuable equipment and the environment. I have watched their cell phones film our every move but disappear when their behavior turns sour.

I work to support my family, and I hope to return home safely to them every night. So, I greatly appreciated reading our governor’s comments to members of the News Tribune Editorial Board. While acknowledging everyone’s right to protest, he said those rights end “the minute you choose to destroy property and put someone at risk” (Our View: “Walz: ‘We’re going to replace an aging pipeline’,” July 19).

I’m a lifelong Minnesotan. I live in Minnesota. I enjoy weekends with my family on the lake here every chance I get. I care about the land on which I work, and I care about other people. It is important to me to be respectful to others, but I also deserve to be respected in return. I took the “Respect Minnesota” pledge. So did all those I work with on this project. I encourage everyone to learn more about it as we could all benefit from bringing respect back to the forefront.

I fully support our freedom of speech and, frankly, encourage those who feel compelled to protest an issue to do it. But violence, breaking the law, or putting others in danger can never be justified in the name of a cause. Otherwise, where is the line? There is a lot at issue in our world today, but to move forward we must be able to respect each other as human beings, first and foremost.

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My appreciation goes out to Gov. Walz and the News Tribune for highlighting this important message.

Joshua Hegge is a pipeline business agent for Local 49 in Bagley, Minnesota.

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