MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Hennepin County sheriff’s deputies are heading home after being called to help with the Dakota Access Pipeline protest in North Dakota.
Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek said 30 deputies were sent to North Dakota as part of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact., a national system where states share personnel during a crisis.
Stanek, Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart and Washington County Sheriff William Hutton defended their mutual aid response at a media availability on Tuesday.
“Public safety should never be partisan,” Stanek said at the press conference. “It should never be political and when we respond to a call, we don’t ask about political views.”
The sheriffs explained North Dakota declared a state of emergency because of the intense demonstrations along the controversial pipeline construction route. Their agencies, in cooperation with Minnesota’s Department of Homeland Security office, agreed to send resources to North Dakota, including manpower and equipment, for several days.
Although the deputies have now been removed, the move infuriated local Native Americans and environmentalists, who organized a large protest at Minneapolis City Hall on Friday. The frustration boiled up again at a Hennepin County Board Meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
“Deputies should not be used against the public,” Darleen Tareeq, a representative of Native Lives Matter, said at the meeting. “Hennepin deputies are not a militia. Their only job is to secure the county and its jails.”
Hundreds of people have been protesting in North Dakota for months in support of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s opposition to the pipeline. The $3.8 billion pipeline would run from North Dakota to Illinois.