Officials in North Dakota have announced that they are instituting a $1,000 fine for anyone who is caught bringing food or other supplies to the Standing Rock protesters.
On Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers sent an eviction letter to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier, ordering protesters off the land. Then on Monday, Governor Jack Dalrymple issued an “emergency evacuation” order. It was then explained that there were no actual plans to forcibly remove demonstrators.
State officials originally said they would construct a formal blockade to stop any supplies from coming into the camp. However, they later walked this statement back and said that they would instead enact hefty fines for people bringing in food or other supplies to the protesters. Maxine Herr, a spokeswoman for the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, said that rather than constructing a blockade, they would take a more “passive role.”
“The governor is more interested in public safety than setting up a road block and turning people away,” Herr said.
Cecily Fong, a spokeswoman for the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, said that the $1,000 fine may act as a deterrence to those who might consider bringing in food or other supplies that would help the protesters.
“So that effectively is going to block that stuff (supplies), but there is not going to be a hard roadblock,” Fong said.
The demonstrators, who have dubbed themselves “water protectors,” have made it quite clear that they have no intention of leaving. What began as a protest with a few hundred people has swelled to thousands over the past few months. They are trying to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which they argue will eventually leak (as they all inevitably do) and poison the water.
Last weekend, the Morton County Sheriff’s Office assaulted 400 protesters who were trapped on a bridge, blasting them with tear gas, sound cannons, rubber bullets, concussion grenades, and water cannons in below freezing temperatures. They had been attempting to open the only road to the hospital, which authorities have blocked off. A lawsuit has been filed against the sheriff’s department on behalf of the protesters who were injured by the obvious use of excessive force, many of whom had to be hospitalized.
Now they plan to stop them from being able to eat. Since when did it become acceptable to use hypothermia and starvation as weapons? Just how many human rights violations do we have to witness before we finally say enough?
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