The last group of 11 Nebraska State Patrol troopers sent to assist with a protest over the Dakota Access Pipeline returned on Nov. 23 after a 10-day mission to North Dakota.
The contingent was part of an assistance request from North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. The compact allows states to lend support in cases of emergency and all 50 states are members.
The request for assistance began in mid-August when a group of individuals gathered near Cannon Ball, North Dakota to protest the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Representing a number of Native American tribes, they said the oil pipeline will threaten drinking water for communities along the Missouri river and destroy Native American burial sites, prayer sites, and culturally significant artifacts. North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said the pipeline, currently slated to run under the Missouri River, could affect the potable water supply and put downstream communities at risk for contamination in the event of leaks or spills from the pipeline.
On Aug. 18, Gov. Dalrymple declared a state of emergency to activate the state’s Emergency Operations Plan. On Sept. 8, he activated the North Dakota National Guard to serve as support for law enforcement.
Jody Fawl, Public Information Officer with the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, said support from Nebraska was provided as three missions. The first deployment of troopers was from about Oct. 19 to Nov. 6.
Airplane support, capable of night flights, were sent to monitor ground activities as a second mission. Those activities ran from about Oct. 30 through Nov. 21. When the pilots weren’t on duty, they were able to return to Nebraska.
On Nov. 20, police and about 400 protesters clashed. Law enforcement reported that demonstrators had set fires, though camp elders stated the fires were set for warmth in below freezing temperatures. Law enforcement officers fired rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon at the crowds. Severe injuries to the water protectors were reported as a result of the clash.
The last mission, running from Nov. 14 – 23, had 11 Nebraska troopers deployed to the Cannon Ball area. Fawl said no other assistance has been requested as of Nov. 28.
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