Last week Dakota Access protesters clashed with North Dakota law enforcement when they refused to leave a stretch of public highway they were blocking, as well as private land adjacent to the highway where they were camping. In the wake of that violence many of the protesters have claimed they were mistreated.
Standing Rock tribal chairman David Archambault accused the cops of “acts of violence against innocent, prayerful people.” Others claimed protesters were housed in dog kennels after arrested and had identifying numbers written on their arms, something they claimed was reminiscent of the numbers put on the arm of Nazi concentration camp prisoners.
I had Lt. Tom Iverson of the North Dakota Highway Patrol on my program today to address some of these claims. They “couldn’t be any further from the truth,” he told me.
An “absolute bold lie,” he continued.
What have been described as “dog kennels” Iverson said was a “temporary restraining area which had to be fabricated.” He said chain link fence panels were used to create the holding area, something which had to be done due to the sheer volume of protesters arrested.
[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]They “couldn’t be any further from the truth,” he told me. He described them as “absolute, bold lies.”[/mks_pullquote]
“C’mon now,” he said when I asked about numbers written on people’s arms. “Processing over 140 arrests makes it impossible to refer people by their first names,” he said, adding that other information such as the badge number of the arresting officer were written with marker on those arrested.
He called the claim that this was akin to a concentration camp “another ludicrous statement” that’s “completely false and has zero merit.”
On the flip side, Iverson said a “group of militants that hijacked the situation” last week launched attacks on law enforcement that put both the cops and other protesters at risk. He said that in addition to protesters throwing rocks and throwing homemade bombs at police officers – video will apparently be forthcoming of the latter incidents – protesters on horseback herded a stampede of buffalo at law enforcement and other protesters which was only deterred when a helicopter swooped low and scared them off.
Iverson did say that it appears as though the size of the protests camps is “substantially less” than past weeks when reportedly thousands of protesters were in attendance, though he said he didn’t have any official numbers He said that cooling weather was one reason for the camps shrinking. He also said law enforcement has received reports that some protesters are leaving after they came to the camps and realized “some of it is unlawful.”
One thing Iverson said the public should keep in mind is that law enforcement is not on any side in the protest. “We are not a side that we need to get people on,” he said. “We’re out here to do our job.”
Here’s the full audio:
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