State of North Dakota Buying Hotel Rooms and Bus Tickets Home for #NoDAPL Protesters

An aerial view of the main protest camp Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land at the confluence of the Missouri River and Cannonball River in southern Morton County N.D. This view shows the camp's main entrance road at left with cluster of tents in lower center being the camp headquarters. Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune

“The North Dakota Department of Human Services, North Dakota Department of Emergency Services and the North Dakota Department of Health have partnered to set up a travel assistance center,” a press release from the state Joint Information Center states.

It’s a pretty generous package of assistance. “The transportation assistance center will offer personal kits, water and snacks, health/wellness assessments, bus fare for a return trip home, a food voucher, hotel lodging for one night, and a taxi voucher to the bus terminal,” the release states.

Officials will also be providing transport from the protest camps, which are in southern Morton County, up to the assistance center in Bismarck.

You can read the full document below.

“The transportation assistance center will offer personal kits, water and snacks, health/wellness assessments, bus fare for a return trip home, a food voucher, hotel lodging for one night, and a taxi voucher to the bus terminal,” the release states.

I’d heard some rumors about this program over the last couple of days, but hadn’t had time to run them down. Turns out they were accurate.

Some of the people talking about the program have been critical, questioning whether the taxpayers ought to be paying for this, but I look at it as a cheaper option than arresting, jailing, and adjudicating charges against a bunch of protesters.

I’m told that a significant number of the protesters left down in the Oceti Sakowin camp, which has a state and federal deadline to be cleared out which arrives tomorrow, are homeless and/or suffering from some level of mental illness.

If we can safely and responsibly move some of those people out and get them back home, that’s a win in my book, and probably a net savings for the taxpayers.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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