Citing winter weather conditions, and a lack of preparation for cold weather in the #NoDAPL camps, Governor Jack Dalrymple this evening ordered a mandatory evacuation of protest camps in south central North Dakota.
You can read the full order here. Here’s an excerpt:
I, Jack Dalrymple, Governor of the State of North Dakota, order a mandatory evacuation of all persons located in areas under the proprietary jurisdiction of the United States Army Corps of Engineers located in Morton County, and defined as a prohibited area in Exhibit A of the United States Army Corps of Engineers memorandum provided to the Morton County Sheriff on November 25th, 2016 and attached to this order. This definition of the evacuation area shall remain in effect even if the United States Army Corps of Engineers redefines or removes these prohibited areas. These persons are ordered to leave the evacuation area immediately, and are further ordered not to return to the evacuation area.
All persons in the evacuation area shall take all their possessions with them upon their evacuation.
Any action or inaction taken by any party which encourages persons to enter, reenter, or remain in the evacuation area will be subject to penalties as defined in law.
For you lawyers out there, Dalrymple cites his legal authority to issue this order at the link. It also goes on to order state agencies not to not guarantee emergency services in the evacuation area, which has been a concern all along. The protesters are not camping in a KOA. This can be rough country, all the more so with a foot or so of snow sitting on it.
But the question is, will the state enforce the evactuation? On one hand the language says that it’s mandatory. On the other hand, the order also states this: “Any person who chooses to enter, reenter, or stay in the evacuation does so at their own risk, and assumes any and all corresponding liabilities for their unlawful presence and occupation of the evacuation area.”
This seems less a move to clear the camps than the state taking a legal position that they’re not responsible for people who choose to camp out in this extreme weather.
My reading is that the state is warning the protesters that they are on their own, but I have put in a request to Dalrymples office for a clarification.
UPDATE: I just spoke to Cecily Fong, public information office from the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, who confirmed that the state is not going to actively enforce the evacuation.
“What this does is it gives us – because it’s a mandatory evacuation – certain powers under the law to include basically they’re on their own,” she said. She said that it warns protesters that the state will not send in first responders like ambulances if there is an emergency, and it also allows the state to block those bringing supplies to the camp. “If there are any kind of businesses that are delivering supplies to camp we can stop them from going there from the north,” she told me.