Don’t look for apologies from the North Dakota sheriff leading the response to the Dakota Access oil pipeline protests, especially for the recent action against demonstrators who he believes have become increasingly aggressive, the Associated Press reports. “We are just not going to allow people to become unlawful,” said Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, a veteran of the North Dakota Highway Patrol and National Guard who was elected to his first term as sheriff about two years ago. “It’s just not going to happen.”
More than 525 people from across the country have been arrested during months of protests over the four-state, $3.8 billion pipeline, all in support of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe that’s fighting the project because it believes it threatens drinking water and cultural sites on their nearby reservation. His department’s job of policing the protesters — the vast majority who’ve been camping on federal land that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it’ll close in December for safety concerns — has cost the county more than $8 million. Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault said he and Kirchmeier have met many times, and each meeting has been tense and unproductive. “I don’t think aggressive force is necessary and he thinks it’s necessary,” Archambault said. In the most recent clash between police and protesters, officers used tear gas, rubber bullets and large water hoses in freezing weather. Organizers said at least 17 protesters were taken to the hospital, some for hypothermia and one for a serious arm injury, and one officer was injured.