Wisconsin has again sent 17 State Patrol officers to a North Dakota campsite for protesters against the Dakota Access Pipeline, according to the Department of Transportation.
Wednesday was the federal- and state-imposed deadline to dismantle the campsite, which has been occupied for six months and at one time hosted as many as 10,000 protesters.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cited concerns about spring flooding when it ordered the evacuation earlier this month.
About 150 protesters marched arm-in-arm out of the campsite Wednesday before a 2 p.m. deadline, according to The Associated Press.
Some of the temporary wooden structures built there were ceremoniously set on fire, according to the protesters. At least nine people were arrested for not following commands to leave.
The North Dakota Department of Emergency Services requested the latest assistance.
According to the Wisconsin DOT, 17 officers volunteered for the nine-day assignment from Feb. 21 to March 1.
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“State Patrol officers are well-trained and experienced in protecting the (protesters’) constitutional rights as well maintaining public safety in an emotional situation,” according to a DOT memo provided by the office of Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton.
Wisconsin’s involvement comes through a 1996 Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which allows local governments to request assistance from other states for large law enforcement operations and reimburse the associated costs.
Wisconsin sent 43 officers from state and local departments in October to assist with crowd control and vehicle patrols. The assignment coincided with mass arrests one day and an increasing number of pipeline opponents gathering in Morton County 25 miles south of Bismarck, north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
The Dane County Sheriff’s Office sent 13 members in October for what was to be the first of three weekly rotations, but Sheriff Dave Mahoney ended the arrangement after one week in response to local community concerns that deputies shouldn’t be involved in the situation. One of the people arrested was Madison Ald. Rebecca Kemble.
State police sent to the protests reported after the assignment that they should replace name tags with badge numbers to protect their privacy, employ a videographer or body cameras and upgrade helmets and protective vests.
A DOT spokeswoman didn’t have an immediate update on whether any of those recommendations were adopted for the latest assignment.
A state emergency management spokeswoman said that as of Wednesday no other Wisconsin law enforcement agency was assisting at the North Dakota site.