According to a press release (see below) just dropped by Morton County there will be a task force to investigate the use of private security at a now-infamous September 3 incident at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in south central North DAkota.
On that day a group of protester broke down a fence and charged at security personnel who were on the scene. The security guards used mace or pepper spray and guard dogs to try and push the protesters back. The protesters and other groups such as the ACLU have questioned the use of the dogs against the protesters.
The press release also states that the alleged disturbance of Native American artifacts will be investigated as well. Protesters have said that their stampede onto private property and confrontration with the security guards was justified because, they believe, the pipeline company was destroying artifacts the Standing Rock Sioux tribe identified in a court filing the previous day.
It’s worth noting that federal Judge James Boasberg was dismissive of these claims in a later ruling.
From the press release:
A joint task force led by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department is examining the circumstances surrounding a protest that took place south of Mandan September 3rd, 2016. The investigation includes a focus on those hired by Dakota Access Pipeline to provide private security services on that day, whether or not they were licensed, and their actions. The task force is also exploring whether or not native artifacts were disturbed at the worksite. In addition, the investigative team is reviewing the actions of the protesters.
“This task force is an investigative tool comprised of law enforcement and detectives with specific areas of expertise to gather, evaluate and possibly prosecute for crimes. I am using all tools possible to insure this investigation is carried out with no bias toward Dakota Access Pipeline nor the pipeline protestors,” said Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier.
The task force is made up of members from Morton and Mercer County Sheriff’s Department, Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Bureau of Indian Affairs. There is no timeline for when the investigation will be complete.
Here’s the full press release: