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White Earth protest causes tribal headquarters lockdown; order restored Tuesday

WHITE EARTH, MINN. - The White Earth Police Department along with the White Earth Conservation Department with assistance from the Becker County Sheriff's Department, Mahnomen County Sheriff's Department, Clearwater County Sheriff's Department, Bureau of Indian Affairs Police-Boise Forte, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Safe Trails Task Force successfully restored law and order Tuesday, July 13 by removing a small group of protesters who had been camping outside the White Earth Reservation Tribal Council (RTC) Administrative Building.

The protester's demonstration hinged on an unmerited petition asking for the removal of White Earth Tribal Chairwoman Erma J. Vizenor. The actions of the protesters had become more aggressive forcing the RTC into a security lock down Monday, July 12. Police officers and conservation officers of the White Earth Nation remained inside the RTC Administrative Building overnight for building security. Safety concerns for employees and staff weighed heavily in the decision of the White Earth RTC to close the Administrative Building Tuesday, July 13.

Tactical and planning assistance from the Bureau of Indian Affairs-Boise Forte assisted the White Earth Police Department and the White Earth Conservation in removing a fortified barricade placed in the roadway leading up to the RTC Administrative Building. Two protesters were arrested at this location due to unlawful conduct, a third protester was arrested on an outstanding warrant. Two two-person teams from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension followed close behind videotaping the actions of the police officers.

Protesters moved to a location where a short standoff occurred between law enforcement officers and protesters. A segment of the group decided to move to another location where they could protest in a peaceful manner. Law enforcement officers assisted a small group of the remaining protesters at the campsite in the cleanup of the grounds.