Some North Dakota National Guard soldiers will be on active duty this weekend – because of the continuing protests at the Dakota Access Pipeline construction site south of Mandan.
The soldiers are members of the 191st Military Police.
"The Guard members will serve in administrative capacities, and assist in providing security at traffic points," Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) said at a Mandan news conference Thursday.
Dalryimple said that will free up Morton County Sheriff’s deputies, Highway patrol officers and other law enforcement to step up patrols in the county. And this comes as a federal judge is expected to rule Friday on a preliminary injunction to stop construction where the pipeline crosses Lake Oahe.
"We simply want to make sure we are prepared," Dalrymple said.
National Guard Adjutant General Al Dohrmann said public safety is priority number one.
"The Guard's motto is, 'Always Ready, Always There,'" Dohrmann said. "If we can come in and help out, in a non-law enforcement function to free up officers to promote public safety, we see that as a win."
Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault is calling for “peace and order” among protestors, as the federal court issues its ruling. In a statement, Archambault said acts of violence hurt the cause – and are not welcome.
"Public Safety has always been, and continues to be, paramount," Dalrymple said. "We are also committed to protecting the Constitutional rights of those who want to assemble peacefully and lawfully. At the same time, we must make sure peace is maintained this weekend."
North Dakota Highway 1806 – which had been closed south of Mandan because of the protest – is now open again. But officers will be there to warn drivers of any potential traffic hazards due to the protest.