The FBI’s joint terrorism task force (JTTF) is investigating activists who opposed the highly publicized Dakota Access Pipeline, according to reports released Friday.
The Guardian reported that agents within the FBI’s joint terrorism task force (JTTF) have tried talking to several anti-DAPL activists, ostensibly about their actions opposing the pipeline.
The FBI has not revealed the reason for its repeated attempts to contact the activists.
Protests during the months-long delay in construction of the pipeline have resulted in episodes of violence, and yielded more than 600 arrests.
Some attorneys question the constitutionality of the JTTF’s actions. Lauren Regan, executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center, claims that there have been three cases in which the FBI attempted “knocks and talks” where agents visited activists’ homes hoping to secure voluntary interviews.
“The idea that the government would attempt to construe this indigenous-led non-violent movement into some kind of domestic terrorism investigation is unfathomable to me,” Regan said. “It’s outrageous, it’s unwarranted … and it’s unconstitutional.”
According to Regan, none of the activists talked to the agents.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied an easement for the $3.8 billion project in December. Standing Rock Sioux, one of the American Indian tribes opposing the multi-state pipeline, has tried unsuccessfully to remove activists from make-shift campuses ever since.
Opposition to the DAPL intensified after President Trump signed an executive order in January approving its construction, essentially cancelling the Army Corps’ decision.
Morton County law enforcement agents have submitted ongoing requests for help from federal officials to subdue periodic violence at the campsites. A December report suggested that North Dakota’s former governor, Jack Dalrymple, requested Wisconsin’s help in dealing with “civil unrest” and “criminal activities related to opposition of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) project.”
North Dakota officials contend that most of the demonstrators are from out of state. They are seeking evidence to prove that environmentalist groups are paying the protesters.
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