North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple issued an executive order yesterday (November 28) citing safety concerns for the thousands of #NoDAPL water protectors who have set up camp to contest the 1,172-mile long Dakota Access Pipeline. Dalrymple demanded their immediate evacuation—in line with the Army Corps of Engineers’ announcement that they’d be closing off access to that land for the same reason on December 5.
“[W]inter conditions have the potential to endanger human life, especially when they are exposed to these conditions without proper shelter, dwellings or sanitation for prolonged periods of time,” the order reads.
The state will not turn to law enforcement or the National Guard to carry out this order, according to the Guardian. Dalrymple’s order does make clear, however, that individuals who don’t leave or who re-enter will be “subject to penalties as defined in law.” The governor also directed state agencies, emergency service officials and nongovernmental organizations to cease providing services to the area unless the Morton County sheriff or Highway Patrol superintendent approves them.
In response, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II wrote, in a statement emailed to Colorlines:
The Governor cites harsh weather conditions and the threat to human life. As I have stated previously, the most dangerous thing we can do is force well-situated campers from their shelters and into the cold. If the true concern is for public safety than the Governor should clear the blockade and the county law enforcement should cease all use of flash grenades, high-pressure water cannons in freezing temperatures, dog kennels for temporary human jails, and any harmful weaponry against human beings. This is a clear stretch of state emergency management authority and a further attempt to abuse and humiliate the water protectors.
The last time law enforcement forcibly removed water protectors from an occupied area, on October 27, officers from seven states arrested at least 141 people (including the movement’s “political prisoner,” Red Fawn Fallis), pepper sprayed and hit many with batons. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and its allies’ latest interaction on November 20-21 with law enforcement resulted in more than 160 people injured and one severely injured 21-year-old who may have to have her left arm amputated. Amnesty International and the ACLU have called for a federal investigation into the state’s use of excessive force, reports InsideClimateNews. The National Lawyer’s Guild also filed a class action lawsuit yesterday against the county sheriff, the county, the city of Mandan and others through the U.S. District Court of North Dakota for their excessive use of force on November 20 and 21. *
* The post has been updated to inform our readers of the recently filed lawsuit.