When the United States Army Corps of Engineers announced on December 4, 2016, that it would not grant the easement that would allow construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota—threatening the drinking
Despite the positive news, several
On January 16, police allegedly resumed firing rubber bullets at
The violence has resumed in the wake of several proposed North Dakota bills aimed at protesters. A bill sponsored by Republican State Rep. Keith Kempenich suggests protecting drivers from any legal consequences if they inadvertently hit, injure, or kill pedestrians who are obstructing traffic. The bill appears to be attempting to intimidate any future protesters in the state, rather than serving as meaningful legislation, as no drivers reportedly hit any
On January 9, Kempenich sponsored a separate bill that would require the North Dakota attorney general to take legal action against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Justice. Kempenich’s biggest donor to his latest election campaign in 2014 was from the ND Oil PAC.
“It’s shocking to see legislation that allows for people to literally be killed for exercising their right to protest in a public space,” said Tara Houska, national campaigns director for Honor the Earth, a nonprofit organization focused on raising awareness and financial support for indigenous environmental justice. “These [bills] are meant to criminalize the protests with no real concern for constitutional law.”
The Morton County Sheriff’s Department restarted their propaganda campaign against the Standing Rock
On January 14, The Bismarck Tribune published an interview with Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney. (They have been sharing the work of policing the protests with the Morton County Sheriff’s Department.) “It’s like it became the mecca for every eco-terrorist, I call them, every eco-person out there,” Laney told the newspaper. “It was like 140 years of perceived Native American oppression came together there.” Laney is implying that Native American oppression is just a perception and likening “every eco-person out there” to a terrorist, while making an Islamophobic comparison to Mecca. Already in the first sentence of Laney’s interview, he has managed to demonstrate prejudice toward Native Americans, Muslims, and everyone who cares about the environment. Based on how the Morton County Sheriff’s Department portrays themselves to the rest of the world, it is no surprise there were issues of violence and misinformation regarding the Standing Rock protests, and there will likely be several more if this department remains in charge of keeping the peace.