North Dakota calls in National Guard
By Red Power Media, Staff, Sept 08, 2016
The governor of North Dakota has called in the National Guard to assist law enforcement with the Dakota Access Pipeline protest.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple activated the North Dakota National Guard in a limited role Thursday to provide support for civilian authorities dealing with the protests as a key court ruling loomed Friday.
The Guard’s adjutant general stressed that soldiers will not patrol the main protest encampment north of Cannon Ball.
“The Guard is not heading south,” Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrmann said during a news conference. “The Guard’s role here is to promote, like everyone else, public safety and to help out with law enforcement so we can free up officers with patrols cars to go down there and have a visible presence.”
The Bismarck Tribune reports, Dalrymple said the decision was made “out of an abundance of caution” in order to free up law enforcement to patrol the area.
Several armed guardsmen will be posted at a checkpoint along Highway 1806, which has been reopened. They will provide information to drivers passing through.
About 100 guardsmen from the 191st Military Police Company will also be on standby alert, said Dohrmann. This unit, which is based in Bismarck, Mayville and Fargo, has some law enforcement experience.
Meanwhile, as the yearly powwow takes place in Bismarck and a decision from a federal court judge on the tribe’s request for an injunction reverberates, additional law enforcement officers will patrol the Bismarck-Mandan area and parts of Morton County.
Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said he wanted to be able to respond more quickly to situations that arise at the protest camps and for residents nearby. Deputies will not be stationed at the camps.
Kirchmeier said, with the resources he had available Saturday, when a clash between protesters and private pipeline security broke out, he did not have the manpower needed to go in and make arrests.
“We want people to have a safe weekend,” Kirchmeier said.
Dohrmann said he is in discussions with tribal leaders to find a peaceful resolution to the protests. He said he believes there is a group of “agitators” at the site, some of whom have been asked to leave.
Highway 1806 had been closed since Aug. 17 by Highway Patrol and the Department of Transportation due to safety concerns. Tribal members and civil rights groups have called for its reopening, citing economic impacts on the tribe and hindrance to First Amendment rights.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has been leading a protest for weeks near a site along the route where the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline passes its reservation. The protest has included tense confrontations at times, and violence broke out Saturday between private security guards and protesters at a construction site being bulldozed for the pipeline, which—according tribal officials—was damaging burial and cultural sites.
During the Saturday protest, at least six people, including a child, are said to have received bites from guard dogs belonging to a private security company at the site, according to tribe spokesperson Steve Sitting Bear. He said at least 30 demonstrators were hit with pepper-spray.
Lawyers for Energy Transfer Partners filed court documents Tuesday morning denying that workers have destroyed any cultural sites and asking the judge to reject the tribes’ request for a temporary work stoppage.
The Associated Press reports, North Dakota’s chief archaeologist plans to inspect an area where Standing Rock Sioux officials say they’ve identified cultural artifacts.
Paul Picha (PEE’-kuh) told The Associated Press that the trip likely won’t happen until next week. If any artifacts are found, pipeline work would cease.
Picha says state officials earlier surveyed the route, but not the disputed site, which is on private land west of State Highway 1806.
Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault II also released the following statement Thursday calling for peace in anticipation of the Sept. 9 court ruling:
Thousands of people, from members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, tribes across the nation and First Nations in Canada, to non-Native supporters in the United States and around the world, have stood in solidarity against the harm and destruction caused by the Dakota Access Pipeline.
We have stood side by side in peaceful prayer.
The pipeline threatens our sacred lands and the health of 17 million people who rely upon the Missouri River for water. There is a lot at stake with the court decision tomorrow. We call upon all water protectors to greet any decision with peace and order. Even if the outcome of the court’s ruling is not in our favor, we will continue to explore every lawful option and fight against the construction of the pipeline.
Any act of violence hurts our cause and is not welcome here. We invite all supporters to join us in prayer that, ultimately, the right decision—the moral decision—is made to protect our people, our sacred places, our land and our resources.
The ruling will decide whether construction can continue on the Dakota Access Pipeline.