UPDATE: Stream of the press conference is below.
Since the protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline began there has been rumor mongering in political circles about Governor Jack Dalrymple calling out the North Dakota National Guard to deal with demonstrators who have turned violent at times.
Last night those rumors got substance. I have been told by multiple sources, including parents of Guard members and state lawmakers, that National Guard personnel were to report for duty today.
Governor Jack Dalrymple has a press conference scheduled for later today at 11:30am alongside Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann who commands the National Guard. You can see a press release from Morton County below.
I reached out to Dalrymple spokesman Jeff Zent for comment but so far he hasn’t returned my phone call.
Sources in the Dalrymple administration – including Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley – have stated publicly that calling out the Guard to handle the burgeoning protests is an option they’ve considered. With a federal judge set to rule on the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s motion to halt construction on the pipeline by tomorrow, the state has been ramping up its law enforcement presence.
Already law enforcement officers from departments around the state have sent personnel to work at the protests.
I’ll update this post once I know more.
UPDATE: Video of the press conference is below.
Dalrymple has confimred that he’s called out the National Guard, but not necessarily to be on the front line of the response to the protest. Apparently the Guard will be working in an administrative capacity to free up law enforcement officers.
Dohrmann said the only mission they’ve been given at this point is to work at the Highway 1806 checkpoint (more on that below) and to be on standby for the protests should they be needed.
Dohrmann said emphatically that the National Guard is “not going south” to the actual protest site, for what that distinction is worth. He said “dozens” of Guard personnel will be involved and they will more than likely be armed.
“Our role is to support law enforcement,” Dohrmann said.
Also, the roadblock along Highway 1806 which has drawn the ire of the protesters has been ended, converted into what Dalrymple described as an information checkpoint intended to warn motorists about the protest.
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