With thousands of people representing at least 60 Native American tribes camped out along the construction route for the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, Amnesty International announced late last week that it was sending human rights observers to monitor the law enforcement response to the protest.
“Tarah Demant, a spokeswoman for the delegation, said the international human rights organization has been concerned about reports that the state of North Dakota took away water resources that had been provided to protesters,” the Bismarck Tribune reports. “State-owned trailers and water tanks were removed earlier this week from the protest camp after reports of unlawful activity stoked fears among state officials that equipment would not be secure.”
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While Dakota Access had earlier filed a lawsuit claiming worker and law enforcement safety was at risk, protesters made it clear they were committed to opposing the pipeline peacefully. “The tribe is committed to doing all it can to make sure the demonstrations…are done in the right way,” said Dave Archambault II, chair of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “As we have said from the beginning, demonstrations regarding Dakota Access must be peaceful.”
“We are concerned about the health and safety of protesters,” Amnesty’s Demant said, adding that “our hope is that we won’t have anything to report.”
Law enforcement officials told the Tribune their response to the protest would not change with Amnesty’s presence onsite. “Our message remains the same,” said North Dakota Highway Patrol Lt. Tom Iverson. “We need to keep everybody safe and promote safety for everybody involved—protesters, workers, law enforcement, and the motoring public.”
As the protest camp grew last Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg said the Standing Rock Sioux would have to wait up to two weeks for his ruling on their request for an injunction to stop the construction. “An injunction would give the court time to assess the plaintiffs’ claims that the pipeline violates the Clean Water Act and other federal statutes,” InsideClimate News reports. “Boasberg is now expected to rule on the injunction by September 9.”
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