The deadline for the #NoDAPL trespass camp on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land to be cleared out is tomorrow. If it’s not empty it looks as though North Dakota’s law enforcement will be going it alone again to make arrests.
Last year, during the most violent parts of the #NoDAPL protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, President Barack Obama largely withheld any sort of support for North Dakota law enforcement. Despite there being a strong federal nexus – the protests have been organized by federally recognized Native American tribes and have largely taken place on federal and tribal land – the feds let North Dakota twist in the wind.
There had been an expectation that would change under the administration of Donald Trump. Certainly Trump reversed the federal government’s course on permitting the pipeline itself, the thought was he’d be sending federal law enforcement support to the state as well.
That doesn’t appear to be the case.
“We’re getting nothing again,” Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney told me.
Laney has been helping lead the state’s response to the protests for months now, an effort that has lead to 660 arrests so far. He told me he’s “extremely frustrated” about the lack of support now as the state gets ready to clear protesters off U.S. Army Corps of Engineer land.
[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]State officials are saying privately that there’s no landfill in North Dakota that’s as filthy as the Oceti Sakowin camp is right now.[/mks_pullquote]
“They come in and talk a good talk then they turn around to go home,” Laney said.
Burgum seems to feel the same way. “We are not getting everything we need from the federal government, and it’s, again, surprising to me that the federal government has a hard time figuring out how to deploy resources to support a state like ours,” he said during a talk radio interview earlier today.
I spoke with Congressman Kevin Cramer this evening who had said in past weeks that he would be working with the Trump administration to bring federal assistance to the state. Cramer said he strained some friendships trying to make it happen.
“They don’t seem to be intending to” send assistance, Cramer told me. “I don’t think they feel like they need to,” he continued.
He did say the federal government has sent plenty of assistance to help out on the Standing Rock Reservation itself which is also home to some protest camps which are expected to swell as the Oceti Sakowin camp on Corps land is cleared out. “They did pretty good by us with the BIA,” Cramer said, noting that the feds had sent some 80 agents to Standing Rock.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers set a deadline of 2pm tomorrow (Wednesday) to have the protesters off the land. Governor Doug Burgum also issued an evacuation order with the same deadline.
I’m told that Burgum is holding strong to that deadline, and according to the Associated Press the Corps isn’t budging either.
So North Dakota law enforcement officials are preparing to go it alone, and they’re expecting things to get ugly in more ways than one.
An official with one of the counties providing deputies to the effort to clear the camps tells me that the personnel participating will be undergoing hazardous materials training some time tomorrow. That’s because the camps, which have become very muddy due to melting snow and recent rains, have no small amount of human waste and other nasty stuff floating around in them.
State officials are saying privately that there’s no landfill in North Dakota that’s as filthy as the Oceti Sakowin camp is right now.
The protesters are also vowing to physically resist efforts to clear them out. Given the past behavior of #NoDAPL activists, the potential for violence is very real.