The #NoDAPL protesters squatting on federal land – areas under the control of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – has been one of the big bones of contention these last several months. Protesters claim they have a right to be on that land, despite the Corps having leased the grazing rights to a private individual, because it’s traditional Sioux territory not ceded in the Fort Laramie treaties.
Law enforcement point out that they are not permitted to use the land under the laws today, and that the camps they’ve established have been used as launching pads for violent rioting..
The federal government, for its part, has refused to do anything meaningful about the situation. The Corps tolerates the illegal camps – the Corps issued a special use permit weeks after the camps were already started – and assistance from federal law enforcement authorities to keep law and order have been almost non-existent.
And now, per photos provided by Morton County, the protesters are building permanent structures on this land:
State Rep. Rick Becker, a Republican from Bismarck, provides this photo from the ground:
The Corps has prohibited the “construction, either temporary or permanent, of any structures within areas identified in the Special Use Permit.”
“Protestors at the camps are erecting unlawful structures in an attempt to fortify for the coming winter weather, but their actions are both illegal and likely insufficient to protect them from the elements,” Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said in a release (see below). “We’ve seen that many of these protestors are not from North Dakota and may not be familiar with the harshness of our winters, and we urge them to leave the camps and seek appropriate shelter for their own health and safety.”
Meanwhile, Governor Jack Dalrymple blasted the federal government again today over this situation.
“As long as the federal government allows protesters to camp without a permit on Corps property from which some members mobilize unlawful protest activities and as long as the federal government delays a final determination on the easement, we as a state and local communities are left to manage the challenges before us today,” he said in a release.
Here’s the full release from Morton County. Read Dalrymple’s release here.