“[W]e’re going to let it play out for several more weeks” is what President Barack Obama had to say about often unlawful, often violent #NoDAPL protests here in south central North Dakota (full remarks here).
Yesterday I spoke with Cody Schulz, a member of the Morton County Commission, and I asked him about those comments (audio below). He said it makes him feel as though the “state and county are on their own,” adding that he didn’t want to speculate but he has to believe that “politics plays a role” in the President’s statements.
But something else Schulz said was pretty interesting. He said that when state and county officials visited with a federal official it was clear that they didn’t have their facts straight about the protests because they were relying, in part, on social media reports.
Earlier today I wrote about how good the #NoDAPL movement has been at flooding social media with their messaging, even false rumors. Protest sympathizers were claiming that two law enforcement officers had turned in their badges in a show of solidarity with the protests, but despite the claim getting wide circulation on the internet, it’s simply not accurate.
Yet Schulz says those sort of baseless internet rumors coloring the perception of federal officials observing what’s going on in North Dakota from afar:
“Just recently in the last few days we did have a pretty productive meeting with Ron Davis who is at the Departmet of Justice, fairly high up in the Department of Justice,” Schulz told me. “It was productive, but it was clear throughout that meeting…they don’t have the facts. It was clear they were getting some of their facts from the national media and frankly some of the social media.”
I asked him what facts he thought Davis and other federal officials aren’t getting.
“There were things regarding use of force. More questions, not necessarily allegations but questions, why you did this, this, and this. Once we explained and gave them the background there was some understanding,” he said.
What might cure this lack of accurate information among federal officials is if they got some boots on the ground to help out.
Here’s the audio: