The Obama administration rejected requests for help from local law enforcement handling anti-pipeline protests in North Dakota.
According to the Associated Press, the federal government refused to send 100 federal officers to assist the Morton County Sheriff’s office, who requested the help along with the executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association.
Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle told the AP that the addition of border patrol and members of the U.S. Marshals Service Special Operations Group may only intensify, not ease, friction between law enforcement and protesters.
However, several law enforcement officers, led by Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, criticized President Barack Obama’s lack of support for police in a letter released Monday. He described the financial help, fatigue and warnings of local vigilante groups who are fed up with out of state protesters disrupting day-to-day life in the community. With tensions running high, the officers and Kirchmeier fear not only for their safety, but the also the well-being of the residents and protesters.
“As Attorney General Lynch has said, the department is committed to supporting local law enforcement, defending protestors’ constitutional right to free speech and fostering thoughtful dialogue on the matter,” Hornbuckle said. “The safety of everyone in the area — law enforcement officers, residents and protesters alike — continues to be our foremost concern.”
Additionally, DOJ stated to the AP that the agency offered training and technical and technical assistance to local law enforcement officers as well as worked to set up a conversation between law enforcement and critics of Dakota Access Pipeline.
Kirchmeier reacted to the DOJ’s statement saying, “Only in Washington, D.C., would facilitating meetings be considered ‘action’ in response to the kind of aggression our law enforcement officers and North Dakota citizens have had to face over these past months.”