Earlier this week the State of North Dakota was operating an assistance program for #NoDAPL protesters willing to leave the area peacefully. Those participating received a bus ticket, a hotel room voucher, and supplies. But the program didn’t last long.
Today is the deadline, set by both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Governor Doug Burgum, for the #NoDAPL protesters to move out of the illegal Oceti Sakowin camp.
“The North Dakota Department of Human Services, North Dakota Department of Emergency Services and the North Dakota Department of Health have partnered to set up a travel assistance center,” a press release from the state Joint Information Center states. It’s a pretty generous package of assistance. “The transportation assistance center will offer personal kits, water and snacks, health/wellness assessments, bus fare for a return trip home, a food voucher, hotel lodging for one night, and a taxi voucher to the bus terminal,” the release states.
The deadline for the #NoDAPL trespass camp on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land to be cleared out is tomorrow. If it’s not empty it looks as though North Dakota’s law enforcement will be going it alone again to make arrests.
For those of you who don’t know what civil asset forfeiture, it’s essentially a process whereby law enforcement can take property – money, cars, houses, etc. – they feel was used in a crime and keep it regardless of whether or not you’re actually convicted or even charged with anything. Law enforcement literally gets to keep the proceeds from whatever property they seize.
North Dakota lawmakers are putting in some long hours this week as they push to finalize work on bills before crossover. That's the point at which the House and Senate exchange the bills each has passed. Lawmakers seem to be on a roll. They plan to take Friday off, and if they do they'll have used only 36 of their maximum of 80 days so far. Anger and insults There was an ugly moment this week when state Rep. Mary Schneider, D-Fargo, rose to insult Rep. Chris Olson, R-West Fargo, over a bill he introduced on the issue of refugee resettlement.
Rep. Rick Becker (R-Bismarck) has introduced bills to regulate law enforcement’s use of drones in our state for each of the last three legislative sessions. In the 2013 session a comprehensive bill he introduced to require a warrant for drone surveillance and to prohibit the use of weapons on drones failed. In 2015 a bill to restrict weapons on drones passed, only because it was amended to apply only to lethal weapons, it had the effect of making North Dakota the first state in the union to make the use of non-lethal weapons on drones by law enforcement explicitly legal.
The job of a North Dakota lawmaker isn’t over on Friday when they return from Bismarck to their districts. The men and women elected to make our state’s laws are expected to meet with their constituents and participate in public forums organized by local organizations like a Chamber of Commerce or Rotary group. One such event this weekend got a little heated, all the more so when a Republican lawmaker in attendance expressed some frustration on social media afterward.
I don't doubt for a moment the sincerity of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. They're wrong, of course. Their concerns are overblown. Their notions about tribal land, while born of a tragic and regrettable history, are simply unworkable in 2017. But at least they're genuine. You can't say that about the left wing organizers or the celebrity activists like Shailene Woodley and Mark Ruffalo. Back when the #NoDAPL cause was the flavor of the month they were happy to associate themselves with it.
“It’s slow moving,” Lt. Tom Iverson of the North Dakota Highway Patrol told me yesterday on my radio show (audio at the link), “and it’s not going to be fast enough to be honest.” He was referring to the cleanup efforts at the #NoDAPL protest camps in south central North Dakota. The thousands of activists who flocked with North Dakota trespassed on private land, vandalized private property, and used violent and intimidating tactics against law enforcement and the public. And then they left, failing to clean up hundreds of abandoned cars and literally tons of garbage.