North Dakota Very Late Addressing DAPL’s Unlicensed Security Firm, A Sad Commentary on Justice

North Dakota has operated at a snails pace responding to something it has known for at least nine months: The owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) hired a security firm that was not licensed to work in North Dakota.

That security firm, TigerSwan, worked to intimidate and infiltrate the water protectors, according to an Associated Press story run by MPR. The story (again) raises troubling questions about government’s impartiality in the DAPL dispute.

State intervention now is all but irrelevant. The water protectors have withdrawn for the most part; opponents are hoping for help from the courts.TigerSwan’s penalty will likely be a slap on the wrist for a company its size — that and a request for it to stop doing business in the state.

North Dakota’s inaction is stunning. The state of North Dakota’s Private Investigative and Security Board notified TigerSwan last September that it was operating without a license, the story said. TigerSwan’s first zigged, saying it was not doing security work, then zagged by applying for the license anyway. The state rejected its application in December.

Yes, December. And here we are, a half a year later, and TigerSwan is still armed and operating. According to the story:

The Private Investigative and Security Board alleges in court documents filed Tuesday that TigerSwan employees with semi-automatic rifles and handguns protected workers and equipment at construction sites, conducted intelligence on protesters, including placing or trying to place undercover agents within the protest groups, and even monitored vehicle traffic on a state highway. The board says TigerSwan is still providing round-the-clock security along the pipeline in the state.

Where is the accountability for North Dakota for being so slow to act? Where is the accountability for DAPL’s owners hiring an unlicensed security firm? (They probably knew the penalties would be so small it didn’t matter, and they were not getting pushed by the state to change.)

Where is the justice? Consider what happened to the water protectors for their misdemeanor violations — mace, water cannons, concussion grenades, and arrest, held in pens with numbers written on their arms. Now consider what will happen to TigerSwan. The story says:

North Dakota … has asked a state judge to stop TigerSwan’s armed workers from continuing to monitor the pipeline system. It also is seeking attorney fees and administrative fines that could total thousands of dollars from the company and President James Reese for operating without a license, a misdemeanor carrying a potential sentence of 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.

This is an illusion of justice. A few thousands dollars is nothing to large companies. And don’t hold your breath on a sentence being imposed.


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