Law enforcement officials in North Dakota are accusing the Obama administration of ignoring a dangerous situation that could soon spiral out of control. In a letter to President Obama on Friday, the Morton County Sheriff said that the decision to put the Dakota Access Pipeline on hold had “done nothing to ease the tension or alleviate the potential for more violence” from the gathered Standing Rock protesters.
Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said in the letter that he had requested “financial assistance and additional manpower” from the White House on several occasions without any coherent reply.
“To be clear, these protests are a series of federal problems that have been foisted upon the citizens and law enforcement officers of North Dakota,” he wrote. “Community sentiment has turned volatile and there are too many discussions where local groups speak of the possibility to take matters into their own hands. We have repeatedly spoken out against these ideas, but genuinely fear emotions are running too high and this situation could lead to tragic consequences.”
Sheriff Kirchmeier said the entire situation was a powderkeg waiting to blow if Obama didn’t get his act together soon.
“The federal government’s response to the events in our community has been appalling, and it is abundantly clear they have no interest in helping the citizens of North Dakota,” he wrote. “Frankly, our federal leaders should be ashamed of their lack of response to a dangerous crisis currently in progress on their own soil. Each day this lack of response continues only serves to empower criminal protestors and support lawlessness in the name of radical political agendas.”
The Obama administration chose to put the pipeline project on hold temporarily while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers looks for a way around the Native American land that has created so much national controversy. Critics say that by bowing to the protesters in this way, the administration is only empowering the raucous – often violent – demonstrations.
But even beyond that, it’s clear listening to local law enforcement authorities that this is about more than the pipeline itself. These protesters are interfering in a community’s way of life. And the sheriff is right. These police are being asked to guard and protect a federal project while federal law enforcement officers are nowhere to be found? That’s wrong on multiple levels, and Obama needs to do something about it.