North Dakota officials and law enforcement say the Trump Justice Department snubbed them when they asked for assistance in handling protesters by the Dakota Access Pipeline and the court order deadline for anti-pipeline activists to evacuate the campsite on Standing Rock Sioux land is Wednesday afternoon.
Frustrated by Obama era Associate Deputy Attorney General Armando Omar Bonilla, who denied Morton County federal law enforcement assistance in terms of man power, local law enforcement in the county is considering letting US Army Corp of Engineers handle the trespassing on the Corp’s land by the evacuation deadline.
The USACE granted an easement in North Dakota for the $3.7 billion pipeline on February 2, which allowed the project to go forward toward completion, despite protests for the past several months.
However, despite the President Trump’s support of the pipeline’s completion, according to law enforcement and government officials in North Dakota, his administration has shown little to no response to individuals who have been asking him and his team for assistance with the protests attacking the pipeline since the days of the start of the Trump transition.
“We are not getting everything we need from the federal government, and it’s, again, surprising to me that the federal government has a hard time figuring out how to deploy resources to support a state like ours,” North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum told Scott Hennen Tuesday on WZFG.
Burgum added, “And I think one thing you may see coming out the back side of this, because right now the National Sheriffs’ Association around the nation, regularly are the groups, the local Sheriff’s department strapped for resources often come in at the request of the federal government to provide law enforcement on federal land around the country, and if the Feds don’t want to enforce the law on their own land then maybe they should give the land back to the states or maybe the Sheriff’s department should say, ‘hey well we’re done doing that because you guys can enforce the law on your own property as opposed to putting the financial burden on us.’”
Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly addressed the Morton County’s circumstances in remarks to the National Sheriff’s Association on February 6:
“Abandoned is a horrible word. It’s a four letter word in my mind, so to agree that I can do anything to help I will… I’ve talked to both Senators from your state I just, once again, said to them we stand ready to help, as you know there’s checklists and laws… if we can get through the checklists… let’s get it done. I know that you’re a small organization working overtime, working hard, people get tired. I’ll do what I can I just have to get those things checked off, but I promise I won’t abandon you.”
Individuals among the National Sheriffs Association brought up the situation in North Dakota and the need for assistance to President Donald Trump himself behind closed doors at the White House during a meeting on February 7.
The North Dakota Congressional delegation have also requested the White House for help but as of Tuesday, North Dakota appears to be on their own. The Daily Caller reached out to the White House previously on several occasions on the issue but received no response.
“[DHS] Secretary John Kelly said he wouldn’t abandon us but it looks like that’s what the Feds are doing,” a North Dakota law enforcement source told The Daily Caller.
The Morton County Sheriff’s office does the heavy lifting in terms of dealing with protests in the small rural community that surrounds the pipeline which has attracted thousands of protesters from all over the country since last July that big municipalities like New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. can have problems keeping under control.
The small Morton County Sheriff’s office, led by Kyle Kirchmeier, is said to be stretched thin on manpower and resources and North Dakota already owes $303,242 to their neighbor for the first two deployments of South Dakota State troopers to assist Morton County with the protests in October and November.
According to The Argus Leader, the Morton County Sheriff’s Office calculated cost to state and local agencies at $32.9 million. South Dakota is not the only state pitching in. Law enforcement from 33 out-of-state agencies came to Morton County to assist the sheriff’s office at some point during the last few months.
Although Governor Doug Burgum deployed the national guard to the protest site, the guard cannot participate in any law enforcement action. In early February, the Morton County Sheriff’s office cleared out and arrested 76 protesters who set up camp on private property.