Emergency officials pledge to protect pipeline protesters

Emergency officials pledge to protect pipeline protesters
© Getty

North Dakota’s director of emergency management services says it is prepared to offer help to Dakota Access pipeline protesters in the case of winter storms this season.

ADVERTISEMENT

"The bottom line here is, if we are in a situation of life and limb, we are going to be humane in anything and everything we do," said State Homeland Security Director Greg Wilz, according to The Associated Press.

"We aren't going to let somebody out there freeze. So if they start evacuating en masse looking for shelter — which I highly suspect will happen — we would take care of that,” he added.

A spokesman for the Morton County Sheriff's Department told the AP that officials are prepared with gear for the winter weather.

Wilz also said that he has not heard back from emergency personnel at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation regarding emergency plans. 

Protesters have gathered in North Dakota the last several months to demonstrate against the Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access Pipeline, which would run through parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch emphasized in a statement Friday that the Justice Department’s top priority is safety.

“Our first concern is the safety of everyone in the area — law enforcement officers, residents and protesters alike,” she reportedly said.

A spokesman for North Dakota’s governor said the state’s National Guard is ready to offer aid in the event of any emergencies. 

Business Insider reported Friday that veterans were building shelters for the protesters in North Dakota. More than 2,000 veterans went to the Oceti Sakowin camp Thursday to create human shields of protection for the protesters against police.