Indianz.Com > COVID-19 > Gov. Doug Burgum (R-North Dakota)
Posted: May 23, 2020

The pro-DAPL governor of North Dakota made national news for a press conference on May 22, 2020, in which he called for civility as the state continues to battle COVID-19.

Gov. Doug Burgum (R), a supporter of the Dakota Access Pipeline, became emotional when talking about protective masks. Though he has not made face coverings mandatory in the state, he urged others to be respectful of those who choose to wear them.

“I would really love to see in North Dakota that we could just skip this thing that other parts of the nation are going through, where they’re creating a divide — either it’s ideological or political or something — around mask versus no mask,” Burgum said. [Remarks start about 17:14 into the broadcast]

“If someone is wearing a mask, they’re not doing it to represent what political party they’re in or what candidates they support,” he continued. “They might be doing it because they’ve got a 5-year-old child who’s been going through cancer treatments. They might have vulnerable adults in their life, who currently have COVID and they’re fighting.”

Burgum took office in December 2016, shortly after the state engaged in a violent crackdown of pipeline opponents near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. He later sought $15 million from the federal government to pay for the law enforcement and private security personnel that participated in beatings, arrests and other heavy-handed tactics.

A grant of $10 million was eventually provided by the Department of Justice after members of the state’s Congressional delegation inserted an obscure provision into an appropriations bill that funded an “emergency” law enforcement program that is open to states but not to tribes. The wealthy backers of the pipeline chipped in another $15 million, which was called a “donation.”

According to Burgum, the state spent $38 million during the crackdown, which lasted several months, from about August 2016 through February 2017.

President Donald Trump approved the final portion of the pipeline near Standing Rock a month after taking office in 2017. A federal judge has twice struck down the U.S. government’s actions as a violation of environmental law. The most recent decision was in March 2020.

Join the Conversation