Several hundred protesters rallied at Minneapolis City Hall on Tuesday to demand that the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office withdraw deputies and equipment from North Dakota, where people continue to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Deputies from the Hennepin, Anoka and Washington County sheriff’s offices were deployed to Morton County, N.D., on Sunday. The deputies are among officers nationwide who responded to the state’s request for assistance, made through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a national system for sharing personnel.
Many of the protesters in North Dakota have been American Indians, worried about the potential effects on the drinking water on the state’s Standing Sioux Indian Reservation.
“The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office respects the constitutional right of peaceful and lawful protest,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Tuesday, and noted it received a petition “as part of a peaceful protest at City Hall.”
Speakers at the City Hall rally included state Senator Patricia Torres Ray (DFL-Minneapolis), state Rep. Peggy Flanagan (DFL-St. Louis Park), and Minneapolis City Council Member Alondra Cano, as well as American Indian Movement leader Clyde Bellecourt.
The officers are being deployed to assist in “maintaining the public’s safety, preserve the peace, and protect the constitutional rights of protesters,” according to a statement from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.
Commander Paul Sommer of the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office said his department has sent six deputies. Washington County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to inquiries and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office did not provide numbers.
North Dakota will reimburse the Minnesota sheriffs’ offices for expenses related to deploying the deputies. Over the weekend, more than 80 people were arrested during the protest.
Deputies from the Dane County Sheriff’s Office in Madison, Wis., stopped assisting North Dakota two weeks ago. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, Sheriff Dave Mahoney said he decided to stop sending deputies after talking with “a wide cross-section of the community who all share the opinion that our deputies should not be involved in this situation.”
Three Hennepin County Commissioners, Peter McLaughlin, Linda Higgins, and Marion Greene have posted statements on social media saying they opposed Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek’s decision to send deputies and equipment to North Dakota.