WASHINGTON — US Senator Al Franken is urging the Department of Justice to take action to protect the safety and First Amendment rights of Dakota Access Pipeline protestors following reports that law enforcement used water cannons for crowd control in sub-freezing temperatures.
In a letter sent to the Department of Justice (DOJ), Franken said that he is extremely concerned after hearing reports of dangerous clashes between police and individuals protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline project near Cannon Ball, ND, and said the use of water cannons for crowd control in sub-freezing temperatures is excessive, unnecessary, and extremely dangerous.
“The reported use of water cannons for crowd control in sub-freezing temperatures is excessive and unnecessary, and I urge you to take action to protect the First Amendment rights of protestors, and the physical safety of all involved parties,” wrote Franken in his letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “Native American populations have struggled for decades under the complex burden of historical trauma, and I have witnessed and admired how these communities have turned to their cultural foundations to build strength against that burden. These tactics against protestors exercising their Constitutional rights threaten to add another layer of trauma to these communities. I urge you to do everything in your power to prevent further escalation of violence.”