Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier of North Dakota has lead the response to the Dakota Access oil pipeline protests, and he has no plans of backing down.
Kirchmeier claimed that paid protesters and agitators have seized the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, which is interfering with his attempts to keep the community safe.
“This is not about the pipeline, this is not about the protesters. This is about the law, and we want to make sure the law is followed on all sides,” the sheriff said at a recent news conference, according to the Washington Times. “The criminal activity, that just needs to stop. Public safety is No. 1, and everybody needs to follow the law.”.
Protests have gained steam recently over the $3.8 billion pipeline, which will span four states. Protesters have arrived to show support for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which opposes the pipeline because it believes the pipeline could threaten the community’s drinking water as well as damage cultural sites on their reservation, which sits close to the area.
Kirchmeier has met several times with Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault, but those meetings have been generally unproductive.
“I don’t think aggressive force is necessary and [Kirchmeier] thinks it’s necessary,” Archambault claimed, according to CBS.
Protesters have targeted officers and Kirchmeier. Kirchmeier said someone recently posted the location of his father’s grave online, which he believed was a sign of intimidation.
“Social media has been very bad and it has turned out like law enforcement is building the pipeline,” he said. “I can’t stop the pipeline. My job is to enforce the law.”
The sheriff blamed the Obama administration for not stepping in to uphold the law.
“The issue of the pipeline is not going to get solved with protesters and cops looking at each other,” he said. “This is bigger and takes way more political clout than what the county has to offer.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it’ll close land north of the Cannonball River in early December for safety concerns, which means that no member of the general public can be on the lands.
CBS reported that protest organizers said Saturday that they have no plans to leave the land, which leaves Kirchmeier and his deputies in the middle attempting to keep the peace at whatever the cost.
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H/T U.K. Daily Mail