The #NoDAPL Protesters Should Have Heeded Warnings About the Weather

A man stands near a burned out truck as Veterans and activists march to Backwater Bridge just outside of the Oceti Sakowin camp during a snow fall as "water protectors" continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline adjacent to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S., December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Back in the middle of last month, before winter descended on North Dakota with a vengeance, I warned #NoDAPL protesters that they should take warnings about the weather here serious. Winter in North Dakota is no joke.

After that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, citing concerns over severe weather (among other things), asked protesters to close down their unpermitted encampment. Their deadline was yesterday.

Governor Jack Dalrymple, shortly after the Corps issued their deadline, ordered a “mandatory” evacuation of the camps though he has since made it clear that the state isn’t going to force anyone to leave. He, too, cited concerns over the weather.

Yesterday Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault, the man who helped spark the #NoDAPL movement, was telling non-Sioux protesters to go home. Among his concerns? Again, the weather.

The protesters – mostly those from out of state – laughed these warnings off. Here’s an example from the left-wing online media outlet The Young Turks:

Are they still laughing?

Already one #NoDAPL activist from Moorhead has been seriously injured in a highway accident near the protest site.

We’re getting reports like this one:

We’re also starting to see a flood of dreadful sounding social media messages like this one:

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The problem with these camps is that they’re dependent on an influx of supplies. To keep warm the protesters need regular deliveries of heating gas or firewood. But what if the roads are so awful the deliveries can’t get through? Then you’ve got thousands of people stuck in the middle of nowhere in life-threatening weather conditions with no heat.

That’s a disaster in the making. And despite the abuse the #NoDAPL movement has heaped on North Dakota law enforcement, they’re doing their best to protect everyone. Amid sub-zero wind chills and blowing snow, “Morton County set up shelters at school facilities in Bismarck and Flasher,” the Associated Press reports.

Still, it is utterly irresponsible for anyone to urge these protesters to continue camping in these brutal conditions.

The left-wing organizers behind the #NoDAPL movement haven’t been shy about using the protesters as cannon fodder in the past, urging them into criminal protests and violent clashes with law enforcement. But expecting them to put their lives at risk in this weather is reprehensible.

UPDATE: This from my colleague Jay Thomas seems apropos: