The American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota last night sent a letter to Governor Dalrymple and the Morton County Sheriff urging them to protect the First Amendment rights of protesters at the site of the Dakota Access Pipeline construction.

In the letter, Policy Director Jennifer Cook and Legal Director Courtney Bowie write, “We write to you regarding disturbing news reports and witness statements to us regarding the obstruction of the First Amendment right to protest.  With the continuing protest at the construction site for the Dakota Access Pipeline in Morton County, it is imperative that the free speech rights of the public and the rights of the press be protected and respected by all law enforcement officials.”

Recently Governor Dalrymple called for the closure of Highway 1806 to those traveling to the protest site, alleging the potential for illegal activities at the protests, citing the arrests of 29 individuals for non-violent offenses such as trespassing.

“If the highway remains closed and we receive additional information regarding violations of the rights of individuals to protest peacefully, we will pursue all legal remedies available to us to prevent further abuses.  We ardently hope that the government works with us to ensure that peaceful protest is permitted and not hindered by governmental action.”

Download a PDF of the letter below.