Hennepin County Board Chair Jan Callison supports Sheriff Richard Stanek’s decision to send deputies to North Dakota, according to an email she is sending out in response to constituent opposition to the move.
Hennepin, Anoka, and Ramsey counties all have sent deputies and equipment as part of a militarized response to the Water Protectors trying to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Morton County (ND) Sheriff’s Department sought the help through a mutual aid agreement. Stanek’s decision to send deputies has sparked protests. Many Hennepin County residents oppose using local resources to intimidate and arrest the Water Protectors. (Here is an earlier blog.)
Callison said ultimately this was Stanek’s decision, but she supports it based on what she framed as safety concerns. Her email said: “the presence of professional, highly trained law enforcement officers can contribute to a peaceful resolution of highly inflamed situations such as this, a resolution where the rights of all are respected. I think the right answer is to have the right people present who will contribute positively to a fair resolution. And I believe that Sheriff Stanek understands this responsibility.”
That is to say, unlike private security guards, the Hennepin County Sheriffs deputies won’t use mace and attack dogs. However, it still means that our local resources are being used as a part of a disproportionate, highly militarized, and provocative response to silence the Water Protectors. With the current tremendous power imbalance, it is reasonable to ask whether this truly is “a resolution where the rights of all are respected” or in any way fair. To me, the answer is no.
Here is Callison’s full email, provided by her office.
Many groups have organized against this decision. For example, the Sierra Club North Star Chapter has a letter urging Hennepin County to withdraw its resources. Click to sign.
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