Earlier this week the State of North Dakota was operating an assistance program for #NoDAPL protesters willing to leave the area peacefully.
Those participating received a bus ticket, a hotel room voucher, and supplies. But the program didn’t last long.
Cecily Fong, spokeswoman for the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, has confirmed to me that the state’s transition center, as it was being called, has been shut down after at least one room hosting protesters was vandalized. UPDATE: I’m told that the state is still offering bus tickets.
Fong told me that four hotel rooms at the Comfort Inn in Bismarck had been checked out to protesters. She said state officials were monitoring social media traffic last night urging the protesters with the rooms to invite other activists there to vandalize them.
I guess that’s what happened. Fong said the Comfort Inn will no longer honor vouchers from the protesters, and the state apparently isn’t giving any more out.
Fong wasn’t 100 percent on the specifics, but said it was her understanding that only four hotel vouchers had been given out. She didn’t know how many bus tickets were purchased for the protesters. UPDATE: Fong now tells me that a total of five bus tickets were given out, only three were used.
I am working on getting a police report for the incident and will update this post when I have it.
Closure of the transition program was also confirmed with Mike Nowatzki, spokesman for Governor Doug Burgum.
UPDATE: Here’s the official word from the State of North Dakota:
UPDATE: The Travel Assistance Center is now closed. Watch for more updates at https://t.co/lxDqNYuybY.
— NDResponse (@NDResponse) February 23, 2017
UPDATE: There were apparently two incidents at the hotel room. Here’s one incident report, the other is below.