#NoDAPL Solidarity Rally & Sit-In in Minneapolis Prods Sheriff into Removing Deputies

Minneapolis, MN – An estimated one thousand people rallied at Minneapolis City Hall on Friday, October 28th, to protest Hennepin County’s resources and deputies being deployed by Sheriff Rich Stanek to suppress water protectors opposing Dakota Access Pipeline construction near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, North Dakota, a project transiting nearby unceded treaty lands.

The rally started at 2:30 p.m. and turned into a sit-in in front of Stanek’s office on the first floor of City Hall that lasted until 10:15 p.m. CDT.

Unicorn Riot was live to document the events that transpired.

The City Hall rally was the second in four days; the community gathered there on Tuesday with the same message of condemnation towards Stanek.

In similar fashion to Tuesday, people from a wide array of communities rallied on the south side of the City Hall and then went into City Hall for symbolic actions.

The rally on Friday featured a song by “American troubadour” Larry Long and many speakers, including family members of water protectors on the frontlines, faith leaders, politicians, and more. All the speakers came with messages of condemnation towards Stanek and in solidarity with water protectors.

Some of the political figures that spoke at the rally standing in solidarity with water protectors were US Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-MN5), Rep. Karen Clark (DFL-Mpls), and Minneapolis City Council member Alondra Cano.

Young family members of water protectors in Standing Rock discussed the links between their beliefs, emotions and the #NoDAPL movement throughout the rally.

To watch the rally in its entirety, watch the videos below:

After the rally, they flooded into City Hall as they did on Tuesday when they delivered petitions demanding Stanek call back his forces and resources.

On Friday, they delivered voting ballots (pictured below) for 2018 Governor (Stanek is rumored to be positioning for a run) with two voting options, “big oil” or “water“. [Unicorn Riot takes no position and makes no endorsements in elections.]

As the masses streamed into City Hall’s rotunda, a large drum circle and round dance began.

The large crowd chanted “Mni Wiconi – Water is Life!” and time was given to a few speakers as the ballots were brought to an officer sent to accept them on behalf of Stanek and the Sheriff’s Office. We were live on and off throughout the rally inside City Hall, below are the videos.

Unicorn Riot ventured outside around 5 p.m. and captured some great and informative interviews with community members.

To watch the interviews, see below.

As 6:00 p.m. approached and City Hall closed to the public, a wide array of faith leaders, youth, Indigenous folks, Council Member Cano, and more, chose to risk arrest by sitting outside of Stanek’s office to wait for him to meet with them.

People choosing to risk arrest have meeting in front of Sheriff Stanek’s office

Slightly after 6:00 p.m., security officers locked the doors. Around twenty minutes later, building management told those who were still indoors they had to leave, or else a manager would call 911 to have Minneapolis Police dispatched to arrest people.

Interviews below feature some of the folks who chose to risk arrest.

Although the political machinery behind the EMAC and the State of Emergency declared in North Dakota aren’t crystal clear, many in the community believe that Stanek has the power to decline providing North Dakota with resources and personnel, simply by saying “no” at his discretion. Read more about this in our report from Tuesday’s rally.

The law which permitted the resources and personnel to enter North Dakota under the operational command of an external hierarchy is the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, or EMAC, codified in MN Statute 192.89.

Throughout the night, many of the politicians, including Rep. Clark, Rep. Ray Dehn (DFL-Mpls), and council members Jacob Frey and Cano, stood in solidarity with the water protectors, and worked on procuring a meeting with Stanek.

As the crowd stayed, City Hall building management was reluctant to call 911 to report trespassing and have police arrest the faith leaders and Cano. At one point, seen in video below, Minneapolis Police Department’s Deputy Chief Arneson spoke with Council Member Cano and Representative Clark.

The Deputy Chief refused to send Minneapolis police officers to make arrests. Chief Arneson was overheard saying something similar to ‘I’m not going to have MPD cleaning up Sheriff Stanek’s mess.’

The participants of the sit-in then chose to dub their action #WhereIsStanek and called for a sleepover until they were able to meet with Sheriff Stanek.

Security officers continued guarding the doors, preventing the entry of people or food. However, City Council members have 24/7 access to the building; Cano had massive difficulties attempting to retrieve food, and trying to get access for others outside who wanted to participate in the attempted meeting with Stanek.

Security officers contracted to Hennepin County from Barton Allied accosted Cano multiple times. Unicorn Riot filmed the ending of one of them pushing her into the door in what seemed like an attempt to push her out of the door.

During the night, people re-decorated the front windows of Sheriff Stanek’s office with #NoDAPL signs and #WhereIsStanek tape. This was later removed by the water protectors before they left.

While in the City Hall, speakers discussed the recent Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s approval of an environmental review for Line 3, a pipeline that’s over a half-century old, emergency meetings for standing in solidarity with Standing Rock, and political updates on efforts to bring HCSO personnel and resources back. View these speeches in their entirety here.

Representative Clark spoke about 16 representatives that signed a letter demanding Stanek to withdraw his personnel and resources from North Dakota.

Stanek’s office called Clark back and she recapped the conversation:

I talked to him and to summarize, here is what he said …’Well, I can’t bring the deputies back without the Governor agreeing to get out of the contract that we have with North Dakota.’ And I said, ‘So, you want us to work on that huh?’, and he said, ‘yes’ … So, I sent a text to the Governor and the Lt. Governor to say, ‘hey, Sheriff Stanek is saying if you will dissolve that contract with North Dakota then he can bring the folks back’.” – Karen Clark, MN State Rep.

Furthermore, Clark said that she and others were attempting to get the Governor and Lt. Governor to intervene, saying:

It’s not their fault, they did not approve Sheriff Stanek to do this but their department, their administration is being used as a excuse and the reason why he can’t call back the deputies. So we’re gonna try to take that reason away.” – Karen Clark, MN State Rep.

Clark later stated that they “probably need to change the law, we need to go back next legislative session and take out the part of the law that says that our paid officers can somehow be required to participate in this.

State Rep. Dehn said they were seeking an agreement that they could then say to Sheriff Stanek, “the mutual aid agreement that you responded to, we’re gonna allow you to not continue through and carry through on it.

To see State Reps. Clark’s and Dehn’s speeches, see below.

Conversations in political channels continued throughout the night and Stanek ultimately refused to meet with the community if Lt. Governor Tina Smith was not present at the meeting (despite her low public profile, Smith is regarded by many political insiders as the key deal broker in the Dayton Administration and has been rumored as possible DFL candidate for 2018 Governor).

Sheriff Stanek and Lt. Governor Smith have been known to have a shaky relationship as pointed out in this article by the Minneapolis Patch.

The Hennepin County Sheriffs Office facebook page singled out Tina Smith in a post on Friday that explains their side of the agreement with North Dakota.

Smith was not answering calls or responding to Minneapolis politicians reaching out to her for the meeting, so the community members gave an ultimatum to Stanek to show up or face looking like he doesn’t care about them. He again refused to meet without Smith.

Water protectors risking arrest pose with sign that reads “Rich Stanek is scared of me”

The water protectors risking arrest, and those that had gathered in solidarity with them, made a statement around 10:15 p.m. Environmental justice organizer Mahyar Sorour summarized what happened:

We’ve been here at Minneapolis City Hall since early this afternoon. We’ve been camped outside of Sheriff Stanek’s office calling on him to come down here and talk with us to find a way to bring these deputies back home from inciting violence on these peaceful water protectors out at Standing Rock. Sheriff Stanek has made an offer to us, that he’ll meet with us only if Governor Dayton or Lt. Governor Tina Smith will come with him. We don’t understand why he needs to have the people come him, he’s our Sheriff, he’s the Hennepin County Sheriff, he answers to his constituents, not to the Governor, not to the Lt. Governor, not to anyone else. So, we’re declaring victory here because we have declared Sheriff Stanek does not have the guts to come down here and talk to his own innocent, peaceful constituents himself.” – Mahyar Sorour, Environmental Justice organizer, MPIRG

Below is video of the speech.

After the crowd left the City Hall, Unicorn Riot interviewed Council Member Cano, covering her visit to Standing Rock as well as the need to recall Hennepin County personnel aiding in suppressing water protectors. After discussing what had transpired, Cano stated:

What we found out through that process, is that it is very unclear who has the direct authority to bring those deputies home and what we need is public statements from both Sheriff Stanek and the Governors office, explaining this agreement that was signed by the state to aid other states in cases of quote-unquote crisis.” – Alondra Cano, Ward 9 City Council Member, Minneapolis

Watch the interview below.

To watch Hennepin County officers in the frontline attack on water protectors on October 27th, particularly with batons, see below.

On Monday, October 31st, it was reported by MPR News that Hennepin County resources and deputies have been withdrawn from the engagement with North Dakota authorities in their suppression of peaceful water protectors.

While many people, including Unicorn Riot reporters, suffered violence at the hands of Stanek’s deputies last week, according to at least one fossil fuel industry analyst, the interstate policing operation and the brutality meted out to the water protectors by Stanek’s deputies and other law enforcement officials, seems to have backfired, and has created a disaster for the industry.

The national β€œsoul searching” around the energy narrative will not be aided by violent confrontation between Native Americans. … and heavily militarized police forces enforcing the rule of law on behalf of a pipeline company. That is a losing scenario for the American oil and gas industry already plagued by declining political legitimacy. … Images of armored vehicles and SWAT teams and young women hit in the face with rubber bullets and rumors of arrested [water protectors] being held in dog cages – and so much more – are buzzing around the world on social media. … The Dakota Access protests have the making of a disastrous political and public relations debacle for the industry. One it brought on itself at time when its legitimacy with voters is on the wane.” – Markam Hislop – TheAmericanEnergyNews.com, “Dakota Access protests poised to become political debacle for American oil and gas industry

Although Hennepin County has pulled its resources and manpower back, two other counties in Minnesota, Anoka and Washington, continue to provide support to the state of North Dakota.

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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