Senator Calls For Federal Support As Protesters Threaten Violence

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp announced Thursday that she has asked the Trump administration to provide necessary federal funds and resources to support local law enforcement dealing with ongoing protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

In a Jan. 25 letter, Heitkamp held the federal government for the continued chaos and noted the enormous burden that that has been placed on law enforcement to ensure the safety of local communities.

“The federal government is responsible for the repeated delays, lack of transparency and certainty concerning decisions related to the pipeline easement under Lake Oahe, and the continued presence of protesters on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) land.”

Heitkamp also addressed the hefty $22 million price tag of the months long protests have cost North Dakota’s taxpayers.

“While I am requesting resources for future efforts, financial support is also needed from the federal government for expenses incurred as a result of the delays in the easement decision.”

The letter comes as protesters continue to promote violence and further escalate tensions. Most recently, an alarming post on the Morton County Sheriff’s Department’s Facebook page threatened both law enforcement officers and their families. “You will end up in body bags,” wrote Tracer Smith in a Jan. 26 comment. “[W]e have your names and addresses, we know where your children go to school.”

Earlier in the week, Chase Iron Eyes, a former candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives and member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, was suspended from Facebook after he called for “war” against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Sen. Heitkamp is right to ask for federal resources and the Trump administration would be wise to grant the request. In addition, the Army Corps of Engineers needs to grant an easement, allow the pipeline to be completed, and end the protests.