Law-enforcement officials have reversed plans to block people from traveling to the North Dakota pipeline protest camp, and will now just warn people they can be fined for entering a “mandatory evacuation area.”
On Tuesday morning, Morton County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Maxine Herr told CNN of a plan to block supplies and people from the protesters’ Dakota Access Pipeline campsite. Also, Reuters reporter Ernest Scheyder tweeted that fuel, food and wood would be excluded from the site.
— Ernest Scheyder (@ErnestScheyder) November 29, 2016
On Tuesday afternoon, however, Reuters reported that state officials with the governor’s office say there never were plans to cut off supplies to the camp. Spokesman for the governor Jeff Zent told Reuters “there is not going to be any blockade of supplies.”
Herr followed with news that law enforcement’s role would be “passive” rather than an active blockade, according to Reuters. Officers are expected to merely stop vehicles entering the area with a warning that they could be fined a $1,000 fine.
The MCSD spokeswoman stated via phone that this was the department’s original understanding, but had to clarify with the governor’s office. Herr told the media outlet, “The governor is more interested in public safety than setting up a road block and turning people away.”
On Monday, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed an order for an emergency evacuation of the pipeline protest site area, citing harsh and potentially life-threatening winter conditions. The order stated, in part, “the United States Army Corps of Engineers has ordered the aforementioned area of Morton County which they manage to be vacated due to public safety concerns related to the inability to effectively provide emergency, medical, fire response services, and law enforcement services.”
The order was made effective immediately.
The order went on to state, “All persons in the evacuation area shall take all their possessions with them upon their evacuation. Any action or inaction taken by any party which encourages persons to enter, reenter, or remain in the evacuation area will be subject to penalties as defined in law.”
State agencies, emergency service officials, and nongovernmental organizations were ordered to not guarantee, “emergency and other governmental and nongovernmental services in the evacuation area, unless otherwise approved on a case by case basis by the Morton County Sheriff or Superintendent of the Highway Patrol.”
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