As a former fire chief, I understand the trials and tribulations that come along with being a first responder. You are required to continually put your life at risk to protect others. You are forced into dangerous situations with erratic individuals. And you never know what one day will bring.

But, as a veteran fireman who interfaces with first responders, I also understand the joy that comes from serving our communities and keeping our streets and citizens safe.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the Line 3 pipeline project, things are different. First responders from all over the region are pulled from the communities they serve and required to attend to protesters chained to equipment and harassing pipeline workers. And while these emergency responders are on site, protesters hurl vulgar language, insults, and disgusting attacks at these hard-working men and women who are simply doing their job.

Now, things have gone even further with protesters using road spikes and even feces as part of their tactics to harass first responders and cause damage.

I want to speak on behalf of many of us in northern Minnesota and give a big thank you to our first responders. They are going above and beyond to keep our region safe and secure. They are ensuring pipeline workers can do their jobs and earn their paychecks without disruption and harassment.

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Holding up a sign and making your voice heard is one thing. But threats are quite another. It is clear protesters are escalating, and charges against them have become more significant.

We must stop this nonsense and allow our first responders to do their jobs in their communities. And, in the meantime, we absolutely must applaud their efforts when it comes to these ridiculous pipeline protests.

John Gerbracht

Bagley, Minnesota

The writer was a firefighter in Bagley for 21 years and served as Bagley’s fire chief.


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