FBI agents tasked with preventing terrorist attacks have been diverted to investigate political activists campaigning against the Dakota Access pipeline, The Guardian reports. Multiple officers within the FBI joint terrorism task force (JTTF) have been attempting to contact individuals involved with the protest movement in North Dakota. FBI officials have declined to comment on their reason for investigating these individuals.
“The idea that the government would attempt to construe this indigenous-led nonviolent movement into some kind of domestic terrorism investigation is unfathomable to me,” said civil rights attorney Lauren Regan. “It’s outrageous, it’s unwarranted ... and it’s unconstitutional.” Three individuals, including a Native American and a non-indigenous activist, have been questioned by JTTF agents, who asked them to voluntarily provide information. The individuals asserted their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
Regan believes that JTTF agents may be contacting other people involved in the DAPL protests, and is concerned that other activists may not realize that their best option is to remain silent and call a lawyer. The attorney also believes that the JTTF may be involved due to allegations that the DAPL protest movement is violent and dangerous. “From the very beginning, local law enforcement has attempted to justify its militarized presence ... by making false allegations that somehow these water protectors were violent,” she said.
“This is history repeating itself,” said LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, founder of the first camp opposing the pipeline. “I keep on thinking, how we did come to this point? … When did Americans lose their rights? When did America stop following the law?”