“Today is the day that they’re going to try and remove everybody”
By C.S. Hagen
MANDAN – An investigation launched by Morton County Sheriff’s Department has proven the dog handlers on September 3 were not properly licensed to perform security work in the Peace Garden State.
But because security personnel cannot be identified, no charges are forthcoming from county law enforcement, according to Morton County Sheriff’s Department.
“Through this investigation it has become evident that many security companies have been hired to do security work for the DAPL pipeline project,” Morton County Captain Jay Gruebele said. “Although lists of security employees have been provided, there is no way of confirming whether the list is accurate or if names have been purposefully withheld.”
Dog handlers have come and gone, Gruebele said, making it impossible to identify who was involved.”
Seven dogs and seven handlers were involved during the September 3 dog attacks, Gruebele said. The attack dogs were deployed in an attempt to keep the activists under control.
The owner of Ohio-based Frost Kennels, a security firm that specializes in guard dogs, said they were at the scene on September 3.
“We went out there to do a job and we did it,” Bob Frost, the owner, said. “So we just said f*ck it, and got our dogs, and tried to make a bridge between them and the workers. We did not go out to attack people, but they knocked down a fence and entered private property. I tell you what, if someone came onto my own yard, I’d have the right to shoot them, it’s the law.”
Today, Wednesday, October 26, may be the day Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier plans to shut the activists down, Bruce Ellison, a long-term criminal defense lawyer, said. He heard the rumor second hand, and the report needs validation, he said.
“The Sheriff today said that today is the day that they’re going to try and remove everybody,” Ellison said. He is also the legal team coordinator of the Lawyer’s Guild Mass Defense Committee.
Ellison was disappointed with the news that no charges are pending.
“The sheriff’s department seems to be very inclined towards not doing that, not actually seeking to promote charges,” Ellison said. “The whole actions of the law enforcement seem to be geared toward going after people who were the victims rather than the assailants.
“The wounds that those dogs inflicted were horrific, and completely unnecessary and unprovoked. It is disconcerting that the people who have sworn to protect the people seem more interested in protecting corporations once again.”
The Lawyer’s Guild is preparing litigation. “We don’t intend to let this go. We are also very also concerned about the fact the Sheriff’s Department stood by and watched and the federal authorities at least have taken the position that there is no right to law enforcement protection, which is outrageous.
“It’s part of the systemic problem that people have as they try to exercise their First Amendment rights.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s fingerprints are all over the controversy, Ellison said. “This is a domestic security operation, and it was an FBI agent to one of our attorneys who mentioned that they didn’t see any violation of human rights or criminal, and that law enforcement has no obligation to protect people.”
The FBI is also investigating the firm’s lawyers, he said, and delivered an ominous threat.
“The FBI delivered an implicit threat to people out in the fields resisting the pipeline should not be surprised if some landowner shoots them,” Ellison said. “This is very outrageous. People are in the situation where they don’t have anywhere they can turn for protection.”
The entire area surrounding the new camp is militarized, and law enforcement is slowly circling closer, Ellison said. Hundreds of police officers from around the country are being brought in.
The Morton County Sheriff’s Department report has been forwarded to the Morton County State’s Attorney’s office and the North Dakota Private Investigators and Security Board for possible charges. The report also included an evaluation along the pipeline easement where the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has repeatedly said hold significant sacred sites.
“Morton County is in concurrence with the North Dakota State Archaeologist’s findings that their inspection ‘yielded no evidence of human remains or significant sites’ along the DAPL construction corridor,” Gruebele said.
The Morton County Sheriff’s Department received no information on reports of bite injuries. At least six activists were bitten by dogs, according to Angela Bibens, camp attorney.
In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration instituted a no-fly zone at Cannonball yesterday, citing temporary hazardous conditions. The restrictions start at ground level and up to 4,000 feet, according to the FAA.
“No pilots may operate an aircraft in the areas covered by this NOTAM,” the FAA reported. The FAA made an exception for aircraft flown by law enforcement for their tactical operation center.