People concerned with Highway 1806 barricade ask Morton County Commissioners for answers

Published: Aug. 23, 2016 at 9:43 PM CDT
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The Morton County Board of Commissioners heard public testimony regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline for nearly in an hour at Tuesday's meeting.

All those who chose to speak during the hearing were in opposition of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

County Commissioners say the purpose of the meeting was to give people the chance to weigh-in on the matter in a peaceful manner.

About a dozen people addressed Morton County Commissioners in front of a packed room Tuesday. The recurring frustration for many: removal of barriers along Highway 1806, which restrict access to areas south of Mandan including Cannon Ball and Fort Yates.

"I didn't appreciate it when they put up that block. I have granddaughters and daughters that work at Fort Yates and live in Bismarck. It's humiliating and intimidating when the cops come up to your car and look in your car like we are dong something wrong," said a speaker who addressed the Commission.

"I am embarrassed for the law enforcement officers that I meet on the road, blocking people from seeing this protest," said a woman who addressed the Morton County Commission.

Highway 1806 was blocked up last Tuesday past the veteran's cemetery because of public safety concerns, according to the Morton County Sheriff's department. Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier didn't speak at Tuesday's meeting.

While many spoke out against the traffic interception point, the Board of Commissioners deferred all questions regarding the barricade to law enforcement. The County Commission says they do not have the authority to remove the barricade.

"We thought it was very important to allow these individuals who are protesting to have a voice in a public forum. I think that's very important. As it relates to the traffic control point itself, that is a question that I'll have to refer back to county sheriff, our incident commander Kyle Kirchmeier," said Chairman Cody Schulz, Morton County Board of Commissioners.

Many of those present say they want answers from government officials.

"I don't want any part of it. I don't think that's right. And it's not fair. And that blockade, that should not be there. That's all I have to say," said another speaker.

The Board of Commissioners says they're working toward creating an open and peaceful dialogue with protesters.

Those who spoke against the blockade say not only does it affect commuters driving to work, but it's reduced business for local shops and reduced access to recreation areas​.

Both the North Dakota Highway Patrol and North Dakota Department of Transportation have the authority under North Dakota Century Code to close a highway. This decision to temporarily close Highway 1806 was made by DOT and HP August 17.

To view this information as part of the ND Century Code, visit the links attached to this article.