The North Dakota National Guard will be on standby to provide assistance to the local police government in response to the ongoing protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline, which critics say threatens water and the environment for Native American communities.
North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple said that he asked the “North Dakota National Guard to support law enforcement and augment their public safety efforts,” at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
“For public safety, the North Dakota Highway Patrol and the Morton County Sheriff's Department are enhancing their law enforcement presence over the coming weekend,” Dalrymple said.
He said that the National Guard they will help in “support roles” such as security and traffic in the area, adding that the move will help free up extra officers to patrol the area.
“The guard members will provide valuable personnel, resources and equipment necessary to support local tribal and state officials,” adding that the guard would help to “protect the constitutional rights of those who want to protest peacefully.”
He asked that pipeline protesters demonstrate in a “respectful and lawful way.”
Native American groups are protesting against the pipeline on a camp, sayimg that the US$3.8-billion pipeline carries heavy Bakken crude oil that would contaminate millions of peoples drinking water as well as destroy the environment. In addition, protesters the pipeline goes through treaty-protected sacred lands.
A number of protesters have been arrested for their ongoing protest, with some spraypainting and strapping themselves to pipeline equipment.
Major General Al Dohrman also said in the announcement that he was negotiating with community leaders to find a peaceful solution to the protests, but added that there was a group of "agitators" in the protests.