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Hennepin County dispatches deputies, equipment to quell Standing Rock protests

Photographer Donna Brown snapped the shots on Sunday on "Lakota Territory near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation."

Photographer Donna Brown snapped the shots on Sunday on "Lakota Territory near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation."

The call for help came out in early October. Protests against the 1,200-mile oil conduit that slices near Standing Rock Sioux tribal lands in North Dakota were becoming increasingly combustible, according to Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier.

As the number of protesters opposed to the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline swelled, so did his need for more law enforcement, said the sheriff.  

"We have basically tapped the resources to a level that we've never seen here in North Dakota for one particular incident," he said at a press conference on Oct. 6.

Kirchmeier's professional brethren heeded the call. Laramie County (WY) Sheriff Danny Glick, president of the 15-state Western States Sheriffs' Association and past president of the National Sheriffs' Association, immediately pledged the groups' support. 

On any given day in recent months an estimated 3,000 opponents camp on federal-owned land in southern Morton County. They've attempted to enter the pipeline construction area. Other tactics have included standing in traffic. In order to contain the protests, dozens of law enforcement agencies from various states have dispatched manpower and resources. In past clashes, protesters have faced attack dogs and mace.

Opponents contend the pipeline could pollute the tribe's water supply and threatens ancestral burial grounds.

Count Hennepin County among the sheriff's departments on the ground.

Over the weekend, as 83 protesters were arrested on charges ranging from rioting to criminal trespass, photographer Donna Brown snapped shots of Hennepin County Sheriff's vehicles "near" the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

The photos immediately drew criticism locally. Among those calling for Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek to "withdraw" was Minneapolis City Council Member Alondra Cano, an outspoken critic of the pipeline project.

As of Monday afternoon, Cano and 500 others had signed an online petition demanding that Stanek call his deputies home.

City Pages called the Hennepin County Sheriff's office Tuesday.

It responded with a statement, which read in part: "At the request of the State of North Dakota, and as approved by the State of Minnesota, on Sunday, Minnesota Sheriff’s Deputies from the Hennepin, Anoka, and Washington Counties’ Sheriff’s Offices were deployed to assist in Morton County.… These Minnesota peace officers will assist in maintaining the public’s safety, preserve the peace, and protect the constitutional rights of protesters."

According to North Dakota Department of Emergency Services spokesperson Cecily Fong, Hennepin County Sheriff's expenses incurred there are being paid by the state of North Dakota.