The Morton County Sheriff’s Office and assisting law enforcement officers have engaged in illegal acts and “possible constitutional rights violations in the police response to peaceful protesters demonstrating against the Dakota Access Pipeline,” the ACLU claims.
By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.
November 6, 2016
Cannon Ball, N. Dakota – On Saturday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR) sent a letter requesting for the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) Civil Rights Division and Office of Justice Programs to investigate the “possible constitutional rights violations in the police response to peaceful protesters demonstrating against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).” The ACLU/LCCHR letter also calls for local law enforcement (Morton County Sheriff’s Office – MCSO) to immediately suspend the use of any federally resourced military weapons and equipment. The letter was signed by Leadership Conference President & CEO Wade Henderson and Vice President Nancy Zirkin, and ACLU Washington Director Karin Johanson, according to the ACLU press release.
“The Department of Justice needs to immediately end the militarized and brutal response to protestors demonstrating against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock,” said ACLU Washington Director Karin Johanson. “The use of armored vehicles, beanbag bullets, pepper spray, and police in riot gear against protesters give us great reason to believe that the constitutional rights of those peacefully assembled to protest the Dakota Access pipeline have been violated by police. Even more disturbing is the possibility that these constitutional violations are occurring with weapons and resources from the federal government.”
The MCSO deputies and assisting law enforcement officers from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska and Indiana are accused of violating the rights of peaceful protesters (Native Americans-water protectors and allies) during #NoDAPL protests. On October 27, MCSO deputies, assisting cops, N. Dakota State Patrol officers and the National Guard launched a militarized assault on water protectors at N.D. Highway 1806 and demolished a makeshift camp ending with the arrest of 141 protesters. Many of the protesters were maced, shot with rubber bullets, beaten with batons and the cops used sonic military equipment against them to induce pain.
On November 1, Colonel John W. Henderson from the Army Corps of Engineers sent a letter to Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier requesting the use of law enforcement to engage peaceful protesters at the Cannon Ball River where the protesters were maced and rubber bullets fired at them and cops in boat even targeted and shot at a journalist while doing live news feeds from the scene.
Col. Henderson has since rescinded the letter and assistance from the MCSO after meeting with tribal leaders from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Tribal leaders have called for Col. Henderson to resign as district commander for prohibiting peaceful water protectors to pray on open federal public land by the Cannon Ball River, N. of the Oceti Sakowin Camp. The water protectors were trying to cross the river for a Native American ceremonial prayer at the Cannon Ball Ranch burial grounds where two indigenous women who previously owned the land, both Alma Parkin and Matilda Galpin were buried.
Other illegal acts committed by the MCSO have been video documented by the Native American media as well. Such alleged violations includes and not limited to broken treaties, illegal traffic stops, road blocks to prohibit protesters access to protest sites, illegal and warrantless seizures of property including media drones, shooting at media drones, targeting and arresting journalists for covering #NoDAPL news at scenes and filing frivolous charges against them for trespassing or rioting on tribal land under the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie.
Native Americans claimed that DAPL has intentionally desecrated burial grounds and markers. Recently, it was discovered that DAPL had found Native American cultural artifacts while constructing the pipeline and failed to notify the Public Service Commission (PSC) in N. Dakota until ten days later after the PSC learned of the incident from a third party. DAPL rerouted the pipeline, but the three member commission of the PSC will file a complaint against DAPL, which is now facing between $10,000 per day or a maximum of $200,000 in fines.