A knee on our necks
I read with interest the recent column by Sheriff Scott Rose, “Stop demonizing our law enforcement” (DCI- May 6 edition). His politically charged piece chastises Governor Tim Walz, questioning “what has our Minnesota Governor done to support law enforcement?”
I ask, what has local law enforcement done to support the people of Dodge County? Fighting back against installation of the 11th and 12th swine factory farms in a three-mile radius, my family has faced repeated harassment and intimidation following initiation of legal action against Dodge County officials and area swine contract growers.
Manure-stained blue farm booties purposely blemish the township road leading from a nearby swine factory farm to our family farm—another reminder that industry giants are large and in charge. Bullet holes shot in the stop sign a few hours after my brother and I pulled weeds from the fi eld a few feet away, constant garbage dumped in our roadside ditches and driveway, a large piece of metal hidden in the tall grass that damaged our mower, pure Roundup sprayed on the corn field and caused thousands of dollars of damage, false telephone calls by industry folks to the sheriff ’s department (not to report some illegal activity but to put the heat on my family and get us to shut up), harassing late night phone calls to my elderly father, including such comments as “Have you changed yet?” and other harassing tactics.
The tactics employed against my family are consistent with the tactics employed against other frontline families across the Midwest fighting installation of a factory farm next door.
Serving as a watchdog for powerful industry giants, local law enforcement immediately responds to calls from area swine operators for assistance, including requests to identify a black SUV near our farm and report back to the industry. The culprit—a KSTP news truck.
Unfortunately, local law enforcement under the politically-charged watch of Sheriff Rose has repeatedly ignored the cries of my family for help, dismissing our concerns as a simple “littering complaint.”
Earlier this spring, following removal of piles and piles of garbage, I again contacted Sheriff Rose personally for assistance.
Among the items, a mailer from the Minnesota Pork Board and the Minnesota Pork Producers Association addressed to an area swine contract grower. Finally, a solid lead. In response, Sheriff Rose only contacted the area swine contract grower and made absolutely no eff ort to reach out to me. His response, “I personally did some digging on this—I actually think there may be an issue out there with your garbage hauler.” The problem with this expert investigation—we don’t have a garbage hauler.
Where do we turn for assistance if local law enforcement will not investigate and respond to our cries for help?
The citizens of Dodge County deserve law enforcement that serves on behalf of all citizens— not just industry giants and their local pawns.
Like a knee on the necks of Black people in urban areas, industry giants, with the aid of pro-industry local offi cials, have had a firm knee on the necks of Dodge County citizens for years.
Sonja Trom Eayrs grew up in rural Dodge County as a farmer’s daughter. She now lives in the Twin Cities where she is an attorney and advocate for rural Minnesota.