A mystery may have been solved in terms of the ongoing protests surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Throughout these demonstrations and incidents of violence centered on the makeshift camps set up on federal land, we’ve been wondering why the federal response has been so muted. In fact, fairly early on I pointed out that there seemed to be something of a double standard between this confrontation and the showdown with the Oregon protesters last year. Given the amount of damage taking place and recorded incidents of violence, why weren’t federal agents moving in to keep more order and support local law enforcement?
A new revelation this week may provide the answer. According to at least one report, the Department of Justice under Attorney General Loretta Lynch passed the word to “stand down” and not get too involved. (Daily Caller)
Attorney General Loretta Lynch refused to meet with National Sheriff’s Association (NSA) Executive Director Jonathan Thompson about the law enforcement issues facing communities in North Dakota as a result of protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the DOJ wants the ND U.S. Attorney to stay away from the situation.
Protesters trying to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline are threatening and intimidating nearby residents, commuters, and press as well as threatening the lives of law enforcement officers…
According to an email obtained by the Daily Caller, Thompson told NSA personnel, that DOJ refused to deploy federal resources in support of local Morton County, North Dakota Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier in an effort to fend off what the NSA and local officials called, “unlawful protests, threats of community intimidation and interfering with lawful commerce.”
One source close to the situation told TheDC that “the DOJ told the US attorney to stand down on help. North Dakota’s attorney general is not engaged either. Sheriffs are in the middle of the storm with limited help.”
This is a disturbing turn in the story to say the least. It’s one thing to adopt a bit more of a hands off approach in general… providing things aren’t getting out of hand. It’s another matter entirely to refuse the requests of state and local officials for help when there’s legitimate violence taking place. In addition to the violent encounters referenced in the linked article, the protesters have already engaged in arson which destroyed millions of dollars of equipment which was lawfully situated and in use. Refusing such a request is just leaving the sheriffs and state police high and dry.
Another aspect of these protests is cleared up by The Daily Caller’s research as well. You’ll recall that we previously highlighted the dual nature of the protest camps. Some of those engaged in demonstrations are locals and members of the Native American tribes in the area. But a second group is composed of outsiders who were brought in to fight any and all fossil fuel activity. The DC points us to a record of arrests thus far from the Dickinson Press. Out of 123 arrests as of earlier this week, less than twenty of them were locals or members of the tribes. The other 106 were all imports from out of state.
One could understand if the Department of Justice was reluctant to go in and start busting heads among the tribe members. Not only do they have legitimate claims to the land and their heritage, but the optics would be horrible. But that’s not who is causing the problems here for the most part. Loretta Lynch could send in the cavalry to drag out the anti-energy, green warriors who are burning the place down with no such complications. Unfortunately, those interlopers are very big with the Democratic base and there’s an election coming up, so I suppose the local cops are on their own.