This afternoon on my radio show on WDAY AM970 (subscribe to the podcast) I has Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney on the program. Sheriff Laney is one of several North Dakota law enforcement officials who have been supporting Morton County during the #NoDAPL protests.
Yesterday, with ugly winter weather descending on the region, Governor Jack Dalrymple issued an executive order telling protesters to evacuate an unlawful protest camp they’ve set up on U.S. Army Corps land (the Corps has given the protesters until December 5 to move out), and officials are saying the order gives law enforcement the ability to block the influx of new protesters and supplies to the camp.
Amy Dalrymple reports that people could be find up to $1,000 each for violating this order.
I asked Laney about that, but he said any enforcement of the order will have to wait until after this storm. “The weather is so horrible down here,” he said.
“The order just came out, right now we’re just completely in winter response mode,” he continued. “I think right now it’s more of a notification to businesses and people who are out there that this is an illegal protest.”
[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]”My hope is that a lot of the businesses realize you can’t be bringing comfort things, you can’t be building illegally, that has to stop,” he said.[/mks_pullquote]
That was a point Laney hammered home. He said he’d like to see the businesses serving the protesters recognize that it’s not a lawful camp. “My hope is that a lot of the businesses realize you can’t be bringing comfort things, you can’t be building illegally, that has to stop,” he said.
There are all sorts of pictures of protesters using copious amounts of lumber to build elaborate permanent structures on the Corps land, despite a specific prohibition on such building from the Corps itself.
Laney also said that while law enforcement isn’t currently blocking supply deliveries or movements into the camp, they may do that in the future. “Are we out here right now stopping cars or stopping trucks going in there? No we are not. Absolutely not. Does the order allow us to do that in the future to say hey you’ve left the camp you can’t go back? I imagine it does,” he said.
I asked him if the order would allow law enforcement to set up check points to block people from entering the camp. “Oh, absolutely,” he said. “I think even the orders of the sheriff and the state statutes…we could probably do that.”
“We’ve been trying to be the ones to not escalate this at all. But as this winter gets more deadly as people are in this environment here, and now with this executive order, it is very easy that we could establish points like that,” he added.
Here’s the full audio: