There were about seven issues on the agenda at Tuesday’s Morton County Commission meeting.
“The truth is there is a state of emergency in North Dakota. There is a state of emergency in the world. The state of emergency is the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline,” cries Layla Johnson, DAPL protestor.
One issue seemed to get the most attention.
“We thought it was a very important to allow these individuals who are protesting to have a voice in a public forum,” says Chairman Cody Shultz, Morton County Commission.
DAPL protesters or water defenders as some call themselves were given the opportunity to respond to the governor’s declaration Friday and make clear their position.
Some said they now fear for their lives against police.
“It feels unsafe to be around here. It scares me because I have a daughter,” says another protester who spoke during public comment as well.
Protesters made it clear Tuesday evening that they were living and protesting peacefully on the grounds near Cannonball and Standing Rock, despite reports of pipe bombs and lasers.
The issue mentioned several times over by opposers was a barricade that was placed on Highway 1806 and Morton County Road 138A that blocks forcing southbound motorists to take a detour. Tactics that reminded some of tensions from years ago.
“When I was born 80 years ago, I was forbidden by this government and it’s churches that work with them to practice our own traditional way of life,” Clyde Bellecourt, national activist.
He says the building of the pipeline near Standing Rock is another example of the violation of their rights.
Though mostly peace has come out of the protests, Chairman Shultz says the county is worried for public safety at this point.
“Even if 95-percent or 98-percent of the individuals there are doing things in a peaceful and non-violent fashion that still at 2-thousand people that leaves a large or fairly significant number that may not be doing this peacefully,” he says.
As the fight continues, protesters are asking commissioners to come visit the protest sites near Standing Rock themselves to see the peaceful village that has formed. As of now we don’t know that any of them have done so yet.