Hundreds Flood Minneapolis City Hall to Demand Local Sheriff Withdraw from North Dakota

Minneapolis, MN – As the Oceti Sakowin Camp takes back unceded 1851 Treaty land in North Dakota, hundreds of people in Minneapolis protested the decision of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office (HSCO) to send equipment and vehicles to North Dakota to aid in the suppression of water protectors.

Organizers of faith and climate justice groups, local politicians, Indigenous water protectors and community members gathered in a quickly planned rally one day after the confirmation that HCSO resources were deployed. Both Minneapolis and St Paul city councils have already passed resolutions supportive of NoDAPL.

Update – Tue. November 1st: Full report: #NoDAPL Solidarity Rally & Sit-In in Minneapolis Prods Sheriff into Removing Deputies

Update – Thurs. October 28th: Full report: Police & Military Attack Oceti Sakowin Treaty Camp. Hennepin County deputies wielded mace and batons in attack on water protectors and attacked a Unicorn Riot reporter with a baton.

Unicorn Riot was live on Tuesday, October 25th, for the rally at the City Hall in downtown Minneapolis.

Among the many powerful political figures in Minneapolis who have their offices in this building, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek has an office on the first floor. Petitions from community residents were delivered demanding Stanek pull back Hennepin County resources from aiding North Dakota state’s forces.

The Sheriff’s office is usually open to the public, but the doors to the office were locked for what Sergeant McDaniel stated as “safety reasons“. McDaniel had been sent to retrieve the petitions from the protesters, but eventually he let three youths deliver them. Here is the situation as it happened:

The youths later explained their experience in delivering the petitions and what this rally meant to them:

With lots of gear in tow, Stanek’s personnel are playing a critical role to bolster the joint law enforcement/military network gathered attempting to sweep the water protectors aside. As state and private resources have been spent to enforce Dakota Access Pipeline’s progress, authorities continue to escalate their repression of water protectors in and around Standing Rock.

During a prayer walk to ancient burial sites this past weekend, police forces violently mass arrested over 120 water protectors (as well as journalists documenting the scene) and maced dozens. The next day, law enforcement shot two private drones being used for media purposes.

Local authorities have admitted to the Associated Press that they lack the proper personnel and equipment to actually clear out the protest camps and arrest hundreds of people at a time.

Out-of-state security people, like unlicensed private team that set attack dogs on water protectors Sept. 3th, are a major reason that Standing Rock Sioux have called for Department of Justice monitoring of police and state-commanded military forces:

The militarization of local law enforcement and enlistment of multiple law enforcements agencies from neighboring states is needlessly escalating violence and unlawful arrests against peaceful protesters at Standing Rock. We do not condone reports of illegal actions, but believe the majority of peaceful protesters are reacting to strong-arm tactics and abuses by law enforcement.” – Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II (via Indian Country Today)

Last weekend, pictures began circulating on social media showing Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office vehicles transported on a suburban roadway, suggesting that HCSO resources were heading to Morton County, North Dakota.

On Monday, October 24th, HCSO gave confirmation of the deployment of officers, equipment, vehicles, and other resources from Anoka, Washington, and Hennepin Counties to aid Morton County in their suppression of the water protectors.


HCSO’s statement identified the EMAC (Emergency Management Assistance Compact), a “nationally adopted interstate mutual aid agreement“, as well as the declaration of a State of Emergency (PDF) by North Dakota’s governor, as reasons to providing these resources. These personnel and equipment may be used as reinforcements to pave the way for horizontal drilling under the Missouri River to happen before year’s end.

Here is Morton County’s Law Enforcement Mutual Aid Assistance Agreement, which Unicorn Riot obtained from Grand Forks through a public records request this week.

We spoke to a local water protector Ashley Fairbanks, who had this to say about the reasoning behind sending resources:

North Dakota requesting equipment and deputies from Hennepin County is a mockery of the emergencies the cooperative program is meant to address. The reality is that no citizens are at risk in this fight; the only emergency is the delay of corporate profiteering on the land, land that is sacred to the Lakota people and vital to the health of all of us.” – Ashley Fairbanks

We spoke with a person who was arrested during Saturday’s prayer walk. He described seeing the police “jabbing people in the ribs” and “hitting them in the knees“. He later said people leading chants and people with cameras were targeted.

They were hitting people with batons, pepper spray. … Anyone who had a cell phone especially was targeted and they would basically pull them out of the line, beat them, handcuff them, and break their cell phones. I’ve seen three or four cell phones get broken. I’ve seen tons of people getting attacked.” – Yash Shafiei

There have been multiple reports of police targeting journalists and confiscating equipment. One of our journalists was arrested at the scene on Saturday and the Morton County Sheriff has refused to return confiscated media equipment. We have spoken with several other journalists and documentarians who also report their media equipment being seized by Morton County.

Unicorn Riot caught up with Clyde Bellecourt, co-founder of the American Indian Movement (AIM), for a few moments. He compared the build-up of forces against Indigenous peoples at Standing Rock to 1973’s Wounded Knee uprising (video below).

There are more rallies planned soon in Minneapolis to condemn Sheriff Stanek’s decision to provide HCSO resources against NoDAPL water protectors.

So far, the forces of county sheriffs have been the main interstate law enforcement respondents, not city police. Sheriffs generally enforce the processes of American county land title systems through foreclosures and evictions. In Hennepin County, Stanek and HCSO frequently execute foreclosures on properties controlled by Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS). The rampant mortgage paperwork fraud transmitted via MERS and uncritically enforced by these sheriffs was a key part of the US housing bubble.

Now they are readying up to enforce a title of questionable legality, as attorneys have argued DAPL cannot legally purchase a ranch property in North Dakota at all, since as the Bismarck Tribune reports, “the state’s anti-corporate farming law, which prohibits corporations from owning agricultural land.”

It’s politically significant that after years of enforcing MERS fraudulent finance, these same sheriffs have now arrived on this patch of the prairie, the Cannonball Ranch where the Indigenous community has finally refused to accept this corrupt land title system, and set it aside to enact the terms of their 1851 Treaty instead.

The leak of the Seaway Crude Pipeline at DAPL investor Enbridge’s facility in Cushing Oklahoma on Sunday, October 23rd has underscored the deadly stakes: enforcing DAPL’s dubious claim to the ranch will put the Standing Rock Sioux in grave danger if the pipeline breaks.

Watch the videos below to view the event from Minneapolis:

Here is the latest #NoDAPL news from October 26th, 2016:

Unicorn Riot will continue to regularly provide direct updates about resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Follow our media on Twitter, Facebook, and our website for more information surrounding the ongoing struggles against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

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Unicorn Riot’s coverage of the anti-Dakota Access Pipeline struggle #NoDAPL from early summer 2016 to present:

March – May 2016

August 2016

September 2016

October 2016

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