Ace Hardware Admits to Profiling and Discrimination

1 December 2016

In response to either a ‘request’ or ‘order’ from Morton County Sheriff, Ace Hardware Corporate instructed stores in the vicinity to refuse to sell small propane tanks and other ‘incendiary devices’ to anyone who looks like they might be from or supporting one of the nearby Water Protector encampments. These camps are full of people enduring winter weather for the sake of protecting the regional water supply from future contamination by the Dakota Access Pipeline. A representative from Demotropolis was told as much over the phone on 30 November. In the audio which is posted here, an Ace Corporate representative not only acknowledges that Ace is agreeing to follow the wishes of Morton County Sheriff or Mandan Police, he also acknowledges committing profiling and discrimination by admitting they will still sell all items to people, unless those people look like they’re from the encampments or are getting supplies for those who are.

Beginning at 19:45 in the embedded audio recording :

Ace Corporate rep Scott : Any materials that could be used as incendiary devices
Guillermo : So … that’s propane … only to Standing Rock, people from Standing Rock. … How would you know who the customer is? … How are they determining who’s from the camp and who is not?
Ace Corporate rep Scott : That’s being done by law enforcement officials.
Guillermo : … in the Ace Hardware store … This isn’t a blanket ban. It’s not that the store has completely stopped selling that. They’ve only stopped selling this to who [sic] they believe is from the camp …
Ace Corporate rep Scott : I don’t think that’s part of the statement at all. I think law enforcement is at Ace to refrain from selling any materials to anybody. There’s nothing that specific in the statement at all.
Guillermo : So does that mean that the hardware stores are not selling to … to anybody … I mean they stopped selling propane completely?
Ace Corporate rep Scott : That’s my understanding
Guillermo : … I spoke to the hardware store at Bismark and they said that they aren’t, in fact, selling propane to anybody. So which is it?

The long recording goes on, Guillermo having conferenced in representatives from a Bismark Ace Hardware store. After awhile, one of those reps acknowledged that he agreed to refrain from restocking the small green fuel canisters because police told him one was used as a weapon and almost killed someone. Guillermo pointed out that there is no evidence of such a thing happening at all. The representative refused to hear the truth that there is video evidence that police have been firing explosives, claiming he is not interested in politics. He said, ‘I don’t care about the facts, they’re threatening my life.’ While anything is possible, it seems he interpreted calls made to pressure him as threats to his own safety. By all accounts so far, callers have threatened to boycott, not to harm him as a person. Jeff claimed he has ‘a great relationship with the tribe.’

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) has published a Statement of Solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against Dakota Access Pipeline. The Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC), an initiative of the NLG, has filed suit for Excessive Force against Peaceful Protesters. The recent filing of the MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AND PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION and accompanying PLAINTIFFS’ MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AND PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION lay out some of the abuses which have been committed by law enforcement against unarmed, non-violent, prayerful Water Protectors. An online search using the key terms #NoDAPL, Water Protectors, Dakota Access Pipeline, #ProtectOcetiSakowan, #DefendStandingRock, #WaterIsLife, #MniWiconi #IStandWithStandingRock … combined with the word ‘livestream’ or ‘video’ will bring one to plenty evidence supporting the claims made in the lawsuit. No evidence has been found which supports the claims made by law enforcement that Water Protectors have rioted or used violence or weapons of any kind.

Throughout the recorded discussion, it became clear that the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing. One thing is certain : the owner of one of the Bismark stores had ‘selling the store’ on his mind. While that’s a harsh reality for him, it proves that the pressure from a boycott and making calls to the stores and to Ace Corporate offices is already having an effect. It’s also become clear that people are willing to make decisions based solely upon false information being delivered to them by police, as there is evidence and eyewitness testimony that Sophia Wilansky was injured by rubber bullets and also by an explosive device aimed directly at her by police. There is no evidence that any Water Protector has used any weapon at all, including fuel canisters.

A second call this morning to Mark Zeman, who manages the Ace Corporate customer service department, brought news which is in direct opposition to everything learned earlier today and yesterday. During a call yesterday, a representative named Cathy began reading a statement which acknowledged that Ace Corporate had agreed to follow a mandate by law enforcement to stop selling anything which ‘could be used as incendiary device’ to anyone from the #NoDAPL encampments. After passing the Demotropolis reporter to Mark Zeman, he began to read that same statement. The reporter requested that Zeman please email the statement, so as to assure that the statement would be published in full and without error. After agreeing to do so, Zeman failed to send the document. During today’s call, Zeman directed our reporter to a new web page set up by Ace Corporate, claiming that they are not refusing to sell any products to any people. He also refused to send yesterday’s statement for comparison, so there is no visible verification of that previous statement as of publication.

The updated statement reads :

Oak Brook, Ill.,December01,2016
Ace Hardware statement on North Dakota protest and product sales
Update: As of Thursday, Dec. 1 at 10 a.m. local time, Ace Hardware stores in Bismarck, N. D., are in-stock and selling 1 lb. propane canisters.

At Ace, our local store owners take great pride in serving their neighbors and it is our policy to serve all customers without discrimination and to follow all laws in each respective community.

We understand the concerns that have been shared with us regarding product sales related to the recent protests in North Dakota and have been working very hard to gather all of the facts from our locally-owned Ace stores that operate in the area and local authorities. To be candid, we’ve been working feverishly to unearth all of the facts, which have been cloudy at times.

In an effort to clear any misunderstanding and/or misinformation, Ace Hardware can now confirm that there is no ban on the sale of products at our locally-owned Ace stores; customers should feel free to check with their local store for inventory availability.

On Thursday morning, 1 December 2016, Ace Corporate revised it's statement regarding the sales of propane canisters to the public, including to Water Protectors.

On Thursday morning, 1 December 2016, Ace Corporate revised it’s statement regarding the sales of propane canisters to the public, including to Water Protectors.

A call to verify this new statement, and to get a copy of yesterday’s statement went unanswered. As is visible on the screenshot of the Ace revised statement 1 Dec released today, the Ace Corporate contact regarding this issue is :

Kate Kirkpatrick
Corporate Media Relations

During a call to Bismark Ace Hardware this morning, the worker who first answered and subsequently a manager named Jeff first claimed that the information which has been circulating was wrong. Jeff claimed that the Bismark Ace Hardware was not refusing to sell specific items to specific people or to anyone, and that all products were being sold to any shopper. After a few minutes, he clarified that he was the manager, not the owner by the same name. When he was informed that the owner had been recorded saying the opposite, he entered into conversation. He did not have answers when asked from whom and what agency came the original mandate from law enforcement to refrain from selling fuel canisters to Water Protectors. Jeff was asked whether if he as manager, or the owner of the store, could be convinced that Water Protectors are acting in absolute non-violent fashion and are putting their health and safety and even lives on the line to protect the water supply, the Bismark store would consider actually making donations in their support. After a few minutes of listening to descriptions of the violence being used by law enforcement against Water Protectors, along with an offer to provide evidence, his answer was yes, that donating might be possible. He was provided an email address to enable the owner to contact Demotropolis.

If and when Demotropolis acquires a copy of (or statement verifying) any mandate received by the Bismark (or any) Ace Hardware from law enforcement, that will be added to this article.

If and when Demotropolis acquires a copy of the 30 November 2016 Ace Corporate statement regarding this issue, that document will also be added.

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