Gov. Doug Burgum signed a handful of protest-related bills into law Thursday, but they didn’t become effective until after the main Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp was cleared by law enforcement.
House Bill 1426 elevates riot offenses and House Bill 1304 makes it a Class A misdemeanor to wear a mask to conceal one’s identity while committing a crime, escaping criminal charges or with the intent to intimidate someone else. House Bill 1293 “expands the scope of criminal trespass activity under state law” and allows officers to issue a citation and $250 fine for trespassing, according to a press release from Burgum’s office.
Senate Bill 2302 expands the attorney general’s authority to appoint out-of-state officers. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem previously said it would be an additional tool that could come in handy if more federal help responded to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.
Law enforcement arrested protesters and cleared the main protest camp in southern Morton County just after 2 p.m. Thursday. The bills, all of them emergency measures, became effective a little more than an hour after the Oceti Sakowin camp was cleared of inhabitants, according to Burgum’s spokesman, Mike Nowatzki.
The news release said the bills were “designed to protect landowner rights, deter criminal activity and expand the ability to appoint outside law enforcement officers to assist North Dakota agencies.” The office said they were introduced largely in response to the monthslong protests over the oil pipeline.