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CORY A. 800 $a beige 80 Wnited States Senate November 25, 2016 ION The Honorable Loretta E. Lynch The Honorable Vanita Gupta ‘Attorney General Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General U.S. Department of Justice USS. Department of Justice, Civil Rights 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20530 ‘Washington, D.C. 20530 Dear Attorney General Lynch and Principal Deputy Assistant Attomey General Gupta: L write to urge your immediate attention to the ongoing situation at the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux ‘Tribe's reservation in North Dakota, which has produced conflicting reports by law enforcement, protestors, and the media regarding the appropriate use of police tactics. Given the ongoing danger to both protestors and law enforcement at Standing Rock, I call on the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to prompily and thoroughly investigate all credible reports of inappropriate police tactics and, if DOJ has not already done so, to send federal monitors to Standing Rock to ensure that protestors can peacefully assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights. Last January, the Dakota Access Pipeline was approved for construction with the aim of creating a direct route to transport crude oil from North Dakota through South Dakota, Towa, and into Illinois vie a pipeline under the Missouri River. The pipeline has sparked controversy because its construction could destroy indigenous Americans’ ancestral burial grounds and contaminate the water supply for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe — as well as millions of Americans downstream who rely on the Missouri River for water. In recent months, thousands of people have joined in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in an effort to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Tam deeply troubled by this tense situation, and particularly by reports indicating that law enforcement may be responding to peaceful protestors near Standing Rock with overly aggressive tactics. According to press reports, local police and private security agents have used disproportionate measures to suppress protesters, including firing bean- bag rounds, tear gas, compression grenades, and using mace. Reports detail police officers in riot gear pelting peaceful protesters with rubber bullets and spraying protestors with water cannons in freezing temperatures. Reports also indicate private security guards attacking protestors with dogs, leaving at least six people bitten, including a young child. Lam also concemed by reports of unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Press reports indicate that protestors have been held in overerowded cages, akin to dog kennels, on bare conerete floors without access to medical care. There are also reports that protestors have been marked with numbers, which is degrading and inhumane. CORY A. BOOKER, eure so89 Wnited States Senate Tam also deeply concemed about the safety of law enforcement officers at Standing Rock, Protecting our men and women in uniform, who put their lives on the line to keep us safe, is critical to a nation that believes in the rule of law. Undoubtedly, police officers should respond proportionately to force used against them and the threats they face, An assault on a police officer is an assault on all of us and should not be tolerated. That is why I am concerned when I hear reports that violence has occurred at Standing Rock against law enforcement. At least one police officer was hit in the head by a rock. This further highlights the untenable situation at Standing Rock, and shows a dire need for federal intervention to ensure the peace and to protect both protestors and police officers. Given the conflicting reports of who has initiated violence and the danger posed by unanswered questions, the tense situation at Standing Rock calls for strong federal oversight and investigation into the violence. If the Department has not already deployed monitors to the region, I urge you to do so. In addition to the deployment of monitors, I write to request that DOJ open a civil rights investigation into whether appropriate police tactics were used at Standing Rock, as well as the allegations of unlawful arrests and mistreatment in jail of protestors by private security and the Morton County, North Dakota Police Department during this protest. I also ask that the DOJ Community Relations Service, DOJ’s peacemaker for community conflicts, assist the residents of Standing Rock and other affected communities. ‘We now stand at a critical moment in our Nation on police and community relations. It is vital that we not erode trust between law enforcement and the communities they police. It is equally important that government officials ensure peaceful resolution of tense situations that arise between law enforcement and communities, such as the situation in Standing Rock, by relying on facts, and not rumor or innuendo, Accordingly, I call for the Justice Department to open a fair and independent investigation into all the facts and circumstances surrounding the events at Standing Rock and hold any law-breakers accountable. 1 appreciate your prompt attention to this important matter. Sincerely, oo CORY A. BOOKER United States Senator CC: United States Attomey Christopher C. Myers, District of North Dakota Paul Monteiro, Acting Director, Community Relations Service James Comey, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation