In an attempt to disperse Standing Rock protesters, officials are now enacting fines on any individual caught bringing supplies to protesters. This is just another attempt by officials to discourage the protesters and end the months-long clash between the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and supporters of the Dakota Access Pipeline project/law enforcement officials. Members of the tribe have claimed law enforcement has used excessive force. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers originally said they would arrest any protester refusing to leave the protest camps. With the Army Corps flip-flopping saying they would not “forcibly remove anyone,” North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple has now issued evacuation orders due to weather. In the “harsh winter conditions” and snow and winds up to 45 mph (74 kph), protesters would face sub-freezing temperatures.
Winter. Is. Coming. It’s all for the protesters safety of course — because they were so concerned for their safety when they used water cannons on them earlier.
According to CNN, Public Information Officer for Morton County Sheriff’s Department, Maxine Herr originally stated officers would block people and supplies from the campsite. However, she backtracked on this saying, “The governor is more interested in public safety than setting up a road block and turning people away.” She explained the governor’s executive order:
‘The executive order is a public safety message to ensure that no lives are endangered by the harsh conditions of winter weather. There will be no road block to stop vehicle traffic and enforcement is passive in nature.
‘According to North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple’s Executive Order, any person who chooses to enter, reenter, or stay in the evacuation area does so at their own risk, and assumes any or all corresponding liabilities for their unlawful presence and occupation of the evacuation area.
‘Any action or inaction by any party which encourages persons to enter, reenter, or remain in the evacuation area will be subject to penalties as defined in law.
‘For example, if delivery trucks are observed going into the evacuation area they will be notified that they are guilty of the infraction and could receive up to a $1,000 fine if they continue.
‘The executive order also states that the evacuated area is notified that emergency services such as ambulances and fire trucks will not be available under current winter conditions.’
Believing the fines will hinder the protesters, Cecily Fong, spokeswoman for the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, said:
‘So that effectively is going to block that stuff (supplies), but there is not going to be a hard road block.’
The “passive” method of enforcing the evacuation comes after much criticism and a class action lawsuit filed by the National Lawyers Guild alleging local police have used excessive force against the protesters.
Despite this, protesters are still standing strong and refusing to evacuate with no plans to do so. Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault told CNN’s Chris Cuomo protests would continue despite evacuation orders and Chase Iron Eyes, a member of the Sioux Tribe, said, “We are in for the long haul.”
— New Day (@NewDay) November 28, 2016
Furthermore, Indigenous Environmental Network organizer, Kandi Mosset, said they were not afraid of the fines.
‘It’s bogus and I don’t know about the legality of it. We’re not afraid. We’re moving in and out of the camp at will. So people shouldn’t be afraid of coming and supporting the water protectors. They’ve been bullying us since day one.’
Whether or not the fines are legal, the government officials in North Dakota have shown a lack of concern for the Standing Rock Tribe’s position on the Dakota Pipeline, especially considering they used water cannons on protesters in extremely cold temperatures. This is simply a “passive” attempt at starving out a people that we already have a history of starving out from their home. What’s next? Smallpox blankets? We had the foresight to use them in the 1700s against the Delaware tribe, and we disguised what resulted in biological warfare as gifts — two blankets, one silk handkerchief, and one linen which came from the smallpox hospital.
Featured image via Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla.