WWLTV – Last week, a Louisiana sheriff spent several days in North Dakota witnessing firsthand the ongoing protests and the responses by law enforcement surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline Project.
St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne, who is also the president of the Nation Sheriff’s Association, visited Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to view how law enforcement agencies were working to protect area citizens and respond to protests.
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Before traveling, Sheriff Champagne admitted he had the wrong impression about the pipeline based on what he called sensational news reports that the pipeline was to run directly through the Standing Rock Reservation and disturb ancient burial grounds.
“I quickly learned and saw for myself that this was untrue.”
Upon his return to Louisiana, Sheriff Champagne shared his North Dakota experience in a lengthy post to his Facebook page. The full post has also been transcribed below.
I was extremely privileged in the last several days to have the opportunity to travel to North Dakota as President of the National Sheriffs’ Association to see firsthand the protest and the response thereto to the Dakota Access Pipeline Project near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation about 25 miles south of Bismarck.
I learned first that the pipeline project, which has been in the works for several years, will traverse four states including North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois carrying crude oil. I was surprised to learn that a natural gas pipeline is already underground on the same right of way. The DAP has received all federal approvals over several years and, litigation which attempted to stop it in the federal courts has been resolved. Despite this project being very “federal” in nature and clearly in interstate commerce, the Obama administration has refused to provide any law enforcement or other support to North Dakota state and local law enforcement that has placed them in the position of having to enforce the rule of law. As usual, law enforcement is put between the rock and hard place due to various political agendas.
Based upon sensational news reports, I had the wrong impression that this pipeline was to run directly through the Standing Rock Reservation and would disturb ancient burial grounds of the Sioux Tribes. The argument has evolved now that this pipeline will jeopardize the water supply of the Missouri River (despite the fact that the pipeline will pass under other rivers including the Mississippi throughout its entire route).
Also, the Cannonball River which runs throughout the Standing Rock Reservation is actually “upstream” from the pipeline crossing. This false narrative has understandably generated a great deal of sympathy and support from many quarters for the Standing Rock Sioux People.
I quickly learned and saw for myself that this was untrue.
The pipeline passes about two miles north of the reservation and that years of archeological study uncovered no significant native historical sites. It is difficult to believe that a single modern pipeline would be more environmentally risky than transporting crude oil by rail or truck through the same territory.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is 95% complete and the construction work near Standing Rock is the last phase which will tie the pipeline together. It is a 3.7 Billion Dollar Project.
This past Thursday, October 27th, steps were taken the morning before I arrived which evicted protestors from private property directly in the path of the pipeline. This “northern” camp was erected just days before and the occupants had been warned repeatedly for several days that their presence there was unlawful and that eviction was imminent.
These warnings went unheeded. Despite the statements coming from the media and protesters that they were completely peaceful and prayerful, it has been a fact that more militant protestors (terrorists) have destroyed property and physically beaten employees of the company in recent weeks. I personally witnessed and photographed what I estimate to be at least a half of a million dollars in damage to bulldozers and excavators.