Standing Rock Chairman Backing Off Criticism of Law Enforcement After #NoDAPL Riot UPDATE: Not So Much


Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, waits to give his speech against the Energy Transfer Partners' Dakota Access oil pipeline during the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland September 20, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

UPDATE: It seems like the comments Archambault gave the Tribune were misleading. He’s now saying the tribe may sue the state over law enforcement tactics.

After a riot earlier this week which saw #NoDAPL protesters light fires, throw rocks, and apparently fire at least one weapon at law enforcement officers Standing Rock Sioux tribal Chairman David Archambault was quick to condemn the cops.

“Militarized law enforcement agencies moved in on water protectors with tanks and riot gear today,” he said in a press release sent out late Thursday, a day he spent in New York City instead of here in North Dakota leading his people.

He called for the federal government to “step in and hold the state of North Dakota and Morton County accountable for their acts of violence against innocent, prayerful people.”

[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]”It is not about water protectors. It is not about law enforcement. It is about a bad company. This is not a company anybody should be investing in,” Archambault said today.[/mks_pullquote]

Saying law enforcement attacked “innocent, prayerful people” is a serious allegation. But now, just a couple of days later, Archambault seems to be backing down from that kind of rhetoric.

The Bismarck Tribune‘s headline is “Tribal chairman says it is not too late to halt pipeline,” but they’re burying the lead. The real story is that Archambault is backing down from his verbal attacks on the cops.

“It is not about water protectors. It is not about law enforcement. It is about a bad company. This is not a company anybody should be investing in,” Archambault said today.

Left-wing political activists and their media allies have been working overtime the last couple of days to paint this week’s actions as one of law enforcement aggression against peaceful protesters instead of cops with a mandate to enforce the law trying to clear a public highway, and private land, of trespassing rioters who refused to leave.

Archambault seems to be trying to pivot from that narrative back to focusing on the headline.

Will it work? I don’t think so. I don’t think Archambault is really in control of anything happening at this point.

If Archambault wants to get his protest movement back on the rails, if he wants to return the focus to a debate over the pipeline route, he needs to start by asking the extremist elements which have joined his protest to leave.

And then he could maybe follow up with an apology to the State of North Dakota and Morton County residence for the violence and vandalism and chaos these protests have caused so far.

I’m not asking that he abandon his mission against the pipeline. I hope he doesn’t. As wrong as I think he is, he’s clearly passionate about it. But he needs to get the #NoDAPL movement under control before something worse than the events of this last week happens.