Independent journalist Nick Sortor confronted Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on Wednesday regarding the controlled burn in East Palestine, Ohio.
DeWine returned for his fourth visit to East Palestine Wednesday to meet with various officials cleaning up the toxic Norfolk Southern train derailment from February 3rd.
Sortor posed multiple questions to DeWine during his visit that he refused to answer.
Why would Ohio Governor @MikeDeWine tell residents here in East Palestine that it’s safe to come home, then a week later tell them THEY SHOULD DRINK BOTTLED WATER?
And as you can see, his people like to literally push citizen journalists around. pic.twitter.com/zB79EDDGE0
— Nick Sortor (@nicksortor) March 2, 2023
Sortor asked DeWine why he would tell people it’s safe to return to East Palestine and then recommend they drink bottled water. He asked for comment about the doctors in East Palestine that are reporting an increase of symptoms in patients and an increase in patient visits since the derailment. He also asked multiple times why DeWine authorized the controlled burn and if would he authorize the same thing if a train derailed in Columbus, Ohio.
While asking DeWine these questions, Sortor was blocked from accessing the governor. Sorter alleged that this altercation resulted in the damage of several hundred dollars worth of camera equipment.
“As you can see, his people like to literally push citizen journalists around. A reporter has already been arrested at a Dewine presser in East Palestine. My fear isn’t unfounded,” Sortor said on Twitter following the incident.
In a recording of the confrontation, DeWine is heard saying “don’t touch him.”
Last month, police threw to the ground, handcuffed, and arrested for trespassing NewsNation correspondent Evan Lambert at a public press conference where DeWine announced the lifting of the East Palestine evacuation order.
Lambert received unfounded charges alleging disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing.
After police had taken Lambert into custody, DeWine said he did not personally order the arrest.
Attorney General Dave Yost dropped the charges as unsupported by sufficient evidence.
According to Sortor, he had a criminal defense attorney escort him out of East Palestine after asking DeWine his questions and waited around for approximately 20 minutes before leaving. He alleges that DeWine’s staff “stared me down the entire time.”
“I’m not going anywhere, and he’s going to eventually have to grow a spine and answer my questions,” Sortor said.
Ever since the catastrophic train derailment and controlled burn that wreaked havoc on the environment and negatively impacted the health of residents in East Palestine, there have been numerous unanswered questions, including who authorized the controlled burn and what alternative actions were considered.
On February 6th, DeWine said he and Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro ordered the release and controlled burn.
However, in an exclusive interview with The Ohio Star on February 17th, DeWine’s spokesman Dan Tierney said that DeWine agreed with the decision to execute a controlled burn – but was not the person who gave the order to execute the controlled burn.
Then on February 21st, A spokesperson with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5 told The Star that the EPA did not order the controlled burn, but the Fire Chief of the East Palestine Fire Department did.
East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabick did not comment to The Star to confirm.
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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Mike DeWine” by TheLibertyDaily.