Hennepin County Board Chair Backs Sheriff’s Decision to Send Deputies to Standing Rock, and More Pipeline Updates

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.

For many more pipeline updates, keep reading. Continue reading

Water Protectors Arrested at Gunpoint at Dakota Access Pipeline, Independent Media Says

According to the websites theantimedia and Unicornriot,  law enforcement in North Dakota has begun arresting those trying to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline Project near the Standing Rock Reservation.

According to a Unicorn Riot report today:

Multiple lockdowns are taking place at two Dakota Access Pipeline construction sites. All work has stopped. While a surveillance plane and helicopter circle overhead, police on the ground have blocked all road access to both sites.

Approximately 100 riot police have come to at least one site, armed with assault rifles and less-lethal weapons. Around 20 people have just been arrested at the site of the #NoDAPL lockdown, including medics and two Unicorn Riot journalists. As arrests are under way, Facebook is censoring our live video stream.

Healing Minnesota Stories cannot assess what actions Facebook did or did not take. Here is an archived video link by UnicornRiot that was working when we tried it at 7:05 p.m. CST.

This action against comes after private security guards used attack dogs earlier this month on those trying to protect water and sacred lands.

The Dakota Access Pipeline would pass under the Missouri River one mile from the Reservation’s fresh water intake. The route also crosses sacred Lakota lands. The original route had the pipeline passing near Bismarck, N.D. It was rerouted because of concerns an oil spill would contaminate the capital city’s drinking water. There is clearly less concern about the drinking water for Standing Rock residents.

To get some additional information on why Standing Rock opposes this route, check out this 5-minute video showing how pipeline construction already has brought destruction to Lakota sacred sites. (Thanks to LeMoine LaPointe for the link.)

Several religious denominations and other groups began weighing in on the side of Standing Rock and its allies, even before the violence escalated. Continue reading