This past weekend, federal officials announced that despite the ongoing protest near Cannonball they will not evict protestors from their encampment – even though the protest sits on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land. In a story from the Associated Press, it seems that local voices are concerned with the decision.
Pam Link, of the Local 563 chapter of the Laborers International Union of North America also weighed in on the ongoing protest and expressed concern for her members, “I wish people could imagine the situation our union workers have been put in,” adding that hundreds of the workers are from right here in North Dakota, “No one should have to be going to work threatened and put in an unsafe position.”
Ranchers in the area, much like pipeline workers and law enforcement families, are also growing increasingly concerned with the permanency of the protest. According to one rancher, “”To be honest, no one around here wants to say anything because we’re afraid they will come and threaten us…I’ll say this, every rancher around here is packing and people are locking their doors — and no one has ever locked a door in their entire life.”
Dakota Access and local law enforcement officials have not suppressed and will continue to respect protestors’ right to free speech when it is conducted in a safe and legal manner, but observers have noted the hypocrisy in the agency’s handling of the situation.
“If that camp was full of people advocating for fossil fuels, they would have been removed by now,” North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer said. “There is some discretionary enforcement going on.”
North Dakota state Rep. James Schmidt also highlighted issues with the ongoing protests, “I’m starting to see a lot more guns in the back of pickup trucks. All it is going to take is one incident and emotions are going to overtake the situation.”
According to Corps spokeswoman Eileen Williamson, “”We don’t have the physical ability to go out and evict people — it gives the appearance of not protecting free speech.”
Standing Rock Fact Checker has questioned the role, or apparently lack thereof, federal officials have had when it comes to dealing with the ongoing demonstration before, but apparently to no avail. As our earlier observation noted, the absence of rule of law seems to be enabling the escalating nature of the ongoing “peaceful” protest. How much longer will officials continue to turn a blind eye on real threats?