Lakota Country Times: South Dakota county criticized for role in #NoDAPL crackdown

Maya Baca (Oglala) took part in a protest of the South Dakota officers who participated in #NoDAPL crackdowns in North Dakota. She received an honoring from her family for her courage. Her mother, Karin Eagle, organized the protest outside of the Pennington County sheriff's office in Rapid City, South Dakota, on November 9, 2016.

Pennington Co. Takes Heat Over Deputies In ND
By Brandon Ecoffey
Lakota Country Times Editor

RAPID CITY -- South Dakota officials have been critiqued for sending highway patrolmen to oppose efforts by water protectors standing against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Last Wednesday, Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom came under fire for his recent decision to send deputies to assist with police action in North Dakota.

Over the past two weeks the Pennington County Sheriff's office has sent 12 deputies to assist Morton County law enforcement in their efforts to patrol the actions of water protectors who are attempting to prevent further desecration of sacred sites and the placement of DAPL underneath the Missouri River.

The deputies were sent to Morton County in two separate teams who split a two-week shift. According to the Rapid City Journal, they were present when a water protector allegedly fired three rounds at police. According to Sheriff Thom the deployment of the officers to North Dakota was not intended to anger members of the Native American community in Rapid City.

"It certainly wasn't our intent to offend anybody," said Thom. "The officers were sent to protect the public safety," he added.

Thom also stated that he was unaware of any of his officers deploying less-than-lethal force against water protectors. Early last week video was produced of South Dakota Highway patrolmen assaulting an unarmed water protector with batons.

He would go on to add the that a similar interstate compact was utilized by Pennington County and the Oglala Sioux Tribe during a search for three missing men on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation earlier this summer.

The move by Thom to send deputies however has been met with mixed reaction from tribal-citizens living in the Rapid City area. On November 9, a small group of protestors gathered around at the Sheriff's office to display their dissatisfaction.

Kyle White, an Oglala Lakota citizen who know lives in Rapid City sounded off against the decision.

"I don't agree with the Pennington County Sheriff's Office sending deputies to Standing Rock. They are now involved with a situation which has brought about many human rights violations and damaged race issues," said White. "I believe the Pennington County Sheriff failed to consider the movement of the Rapid City community to improve the relations with the Rapid City Police Department and law enforcement in the city."

"Nearly 70% of Pennington County's population resides in Rapid City and with the RCPDs recent and public commitment to race relations, this should have been factored in by the Sheriff prior to sending resources out of the state," said White.

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Crow Creek tribal chairman Brandon Sazue has already ended all relations between Crow Creek and the state as a result of South Dakota's decision to send highway patrolmen to stand opposite of water protectors.

Sheriff Thom says that he does not plan to send anymore of his deputies to North Dakota at this time.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at

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