Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

September 30, 2016

Amnesty International to Morton Co. Sheriff: Halt dog attacks, armored vehicles, police assault weapons


Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier
Morton County Sheriff’s Department
205 1st Avenue NW
Mandan, ND 58554

28 September 2016

Dear Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier:

Following the protests that took place at a Dakota Access Pipeline construction site
on 3 September, we are writing to ask you to investigate the use of force by private
contractors, remove blockades and discontinue the use of riot gear by Morton
County Sheriff’s deputies when policing protests in order to facilitate the right to
peaceful protests in accordance with international law and standards.
On 3 September, protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline construction moved on to
private property in response to the potential destruction of land that was earlier
marked as containing burial grounds and sacred sites for the local Native American
tribes. After protesters had crossed a temporary fence onto the land where
construction was taking place, video shows members of a private security firm use
dogs and what appears to be Oleoresin Capsicum spray (OC spray) against several
of the protesters before the security team leaves the premises. While the North
Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board is reviewing the use of dogs by
private security personnel during the events on 3 September, it is the obligation of
the Morton County Sheriff to review the actions taken by private security in both
the use of dogs and OC Spray against individuals at this site. Even though individuals
trespassed on to private property in order to stop the destruction of potential
cultural sites, law enforcement, in its obligation to facilitate peaceful protest, has a
duty to protect peaceful protesters and not use the unlawful acts of a few as a
pretext to restrict or impede the exercise of fundamental rights of a majority. The
Morton County Sheriff should review the unnecessary use of force by security
personnel on this day.
In relation to the actions that took place on this day, Amnesty International USA has
written to Morton County State’s Attorney, Allen Coppy, calling on his office to drop
charges of criminal trespass against Democracy Now! Journalist Amy Goodman.
Miss Goodman was acting in her role as a journalist/reporter when she crossed
onto private property in order to report on the actions of the protesters,
construction crew and private security firm. Her trespass on to this property was
clearly related to, even essential to, effectively carrying out her role of covering the
protest and making information about it available to the public. We are calling on
your office to support that request to the Morton County State’s Attorney’s office.
A copy of the letter has been attached.
Lastly, we are calling on your office to refrain from outfitting officers in riot gear
when policing of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests unless strictly necessary. On
13 September 2016, after making arrests of at least 20 individuals who were
trespassing on private land in order to partake in non-violent direct action against
the pipeline, images that were circulated from the protest site showed Morton
County Sheriff’s officers outfitted in riot gear despite the lack of violence by
protesters. More recent images from ongoing protests at the construction site show
officers outfitted in similar gear, equipped with assault rifles and using armored
vehicles to police protests. The use of heavy-duty riot gear and military-grade
weapons and equipment to police largely peaceful demonstrations intimidates
protesters who are practicing their right to peaceful assembly and can actually lead
to an escalation in violence. Equipping officers in a manner more appropriate for a
battlefield may put them in the mindset that confrontation and conflict is inevitable
rather than possible, escalating tensions between protesters and police. Any police
presence at demonstrations needs to be proportionate to the situation. Police
deployed in larger numbers than appear necessary or deployed wearing protective
clothing or riot gear can be confrontational and intimidating. As seen in many
countries, inappropriate or excessive police interventions can actually lead to
violence and disorder rather than reducing tensions.
The U.S. government is obligated under international law to respect, protect, and
fulfill the human rights of Indigenous people, including the rights to freedom of
expression and assembly. It is the legitimate right of people to peacefully express
their opinion. Public assemblies should not be considered as the “enemy”. The
command hierarchy must convey a clear message to law enforcement officials that
their task is to facilitate and not to restrict a peaceful public assembly.
We look forward to your reply and would be happy to provide additional
information as needed.
Yours Sincerely,
Margaret Huang
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

Note from Censored News:
Thanks to Amnesty International for this statement. It is important that charges be dropped against Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, but it should have been pointed out that Cody Hall, Lakota media spokesman for Red Warrior Society, spent four days in jail on the same charge, criminal trespass, and Unicorn Riot livestreamers were arrested while livestreaming and jailed.


Lefty Blitzer said...

These cops are sick, violent sociopaths who should be removed from the police force immediately. They and their superiors who are giving the orders are anti-American TRAITORS and it is time they were treated as such. They have become fascists defending corporations and treading upon the PEOPLE they are sworn to protect. Really, it is time for them to meet their imaginary maker.

Anonymous said...

I'm so saddened by this horror story you are all living. I pray we can all live together in peace. Know that many people stand with you - all across this country. From my family in Oregon to myself - in Georgia. Best wishes, stay strong and keep fighting!

Anonymous said...

Really ?! The crime rate in Bismarck ND was up over 92% during 2009-2013 years. Crime is up from the freak fracking fields. Violent crimes in man camps. Human trafficking.
Rape is under reported.
15 year old boy was found in one of the oil & gas camps being passed around from trailer to trailer. Women & girls raped.
Hey Police aiming your guns at people healing the earth, go do your jobs to actually protect innocent people and victims of
ND fracking.

Anonymous said...

Where are the media? Where is humanity for these water protectors? These European descendants have a long history of violence against Native Americans. They are taking phones from anyone caught filming. It's illegal and yet, they are doing it. I think the time is right. We are the 7th generation. It's up to us to change the laws, stop the destruction of Earth, our mother. It is time to change government's perception of our people. You don't have to be full blood to participate, you have to have a deep desire to change our laws. Rise up for our people. This pipeline will be stopped. We can make a difference. Our youth need to step up and take the reins of this protest and listen to the Elders for direction but this needs to be led by the youth. This will effect them and their children in the long term.

Unknown said...

Please sign and share

Naomi Two Hawk Young said...

These tactics they are using are premeditated and meant to cause a riot, so that they can open fire. The police forces themselves are the hired goons, the mercenaries, of the corporations. They are public servants no longer. The spiritual battle, because that is what is really going on, is what frightens them, and they are frantically trying to gain some sort of control of the power that is coming from the people there. They know the power of money, greed, and selfishness, but they do not know, nor do the understand the power of the spirit. If they were spiritual beings, they would not participate. No job security, income, or duty is worth selling your soul for. Be ever prayerful, relatives and friends...Protectors of Water and Life. Know that they are trying to cause negative reactions to stop this movement, by any means they can. You are there for a purpose far greater than what they can comprehend. Keep your spirits strong, your minds clear, and your hearts directed by the creator. I am praying with you and for you, with my whole being. Peace and love!

Claudia Hoyt said...

I fully agree with Naomi Two Hawk Young,the police, especially the Morton County Sheriff are trying to provok the protectors in striking back, so they can say, see its not peaceful, they are violent people. STAY SAFE, STAY STRONG, STAY PROUD

Unknown said...

Thank you Amnesty International. Our government is failing to respond as we implore Federal government to step in. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

hear more about the pipeline and who is cashing in on the pipeline
land grab
go to the 6 minute and 30 second point
if you want to skip over some other scams committed against Americans

Unknown said...

You have a clear vision of what is happening. The authorities will do everything they can think of to reframe the situation into one they know and can control. If it becomes violent, they win. The spiritual tidal wave will scare them, and they don't even know what they are witnessing.

Anonymous said...

Scared ground is what it means. You sir being the Sheriff why would you give the order to use deadly force? This land belongs to the Indians. Not right what happened. Putting Indians in jail .they are protecting what's there's. Not yours.

Anonymous said...

Sadly the police are only doing the bidding of the government, which is controlled by the pipeline businesses. not to mention that some of the senators in the state government own some of the oil wells that need the pipeline to get their oil south to sell. The state and federal governments have a long long history of trampling the rights of the Indians, taking their land whenever they feel like it, breaking treaties, using chemical and biological warfare, and simply killing the Indians outright. The people in the state probably don't give a rat's tushie about native rights either. DISGUSTING, and IMMORAL

Unknown said...

The ECO-TERRORIST, Kelcy Warren," and his "black snake," pipeline must be stopped!