In an effort to suppress the ongoing Dakota Access Pipeline protests at Standing Rock, North Dakota officials have threatened hefty fines on anyone bringing “prohibited items” into the area – including portable bathrooms, building materials, and even food. This follows an “emergency evacuation” order issued by state Governor Jack Dalrymple on Monday. While the evacuation was supposedly due to incoming snowstorms, protesters believe it’s simply an attempt by the state to circumvent federal authority and intimidate activists.
The governor’s office initially planned to set up a physical blockade to prevent people from reaching the camp, however, it has since softened its approach. Instead, law enforcement officers will stop vehicles attempting to enter the camp and inform drivers that they could be subject to a $1,000 fine for entering the evacuation zone.
Organizers at the camp allege that the order is simply an attempt to bully the protesters, and it’s a difficult point to argue – law enforcement officials certainly didn’t seem to worry about exposing the self-proclaimed “water protectors” from the elements earlier this month when they sprayed them with water cannons in sub-freezing weather conditions. In fact, this week injured protesters filed a class action lawsuit alleging that the police gave no warnings before violently attempting to disperse the protests.
While the state of North Dakota has asked for help from federal law enforcement to remove the demonstrators from the evacuation zone by December 5th, the Army Corps issued a statement on Monday that it would not be forcibly removing people from the land. However, emergency services to the camp will be restricted, based on approval from the county sheriff and highway patrol – a potentially dangerous action if the police should clash with the protesters again.
Images via Standing Rock Rising