This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up or thumbs down on the issues from the past week.
The failure of President Donald Trump supporters at all levels to acknowledge the legitimate presidential election result helped fuel the angry and violent mob that breached the U.S. Capitol last week. It started with the inflammatory rhetoric of Trump, who continually repeated claims of fraud that have been rejected by numerous courts, including by judges he appointed. Others, including North Dakota’s congressional delegation, bolstered the bogus claims that the election was stolen when they questioned the integrity of the election and participated in a rally backing Trump as he was refusing to concede. Sens. Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven and Rep. Kelly Armstrong did not object last week to President-elect Joe Biden’s win, but Cramer and Hoeven said they would support establishing a commission to examine the election. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem joining a lawsuit challenging the election result in four states further fueled the claims of fraud. Those who participated in the riot are responsible for their actions and should be held accountable. But many others ought to examine the impact their words and actions had.
Agreements that are in the works between North Dakota tribal nations and the state will improve safety on and around reservations. State compacts with four tribes would allow the North Dakota Highway Patrol and permitted county sheriff's offices to respond and assist federal Bureau of Indian Affairs police and tribal police departments, and vice versa, on or near reservations. The Highway Patrol’s cultural liaison officer has spent two years working on the agreements, which are under legal review. It’s a commonsense approach that will bring better response for citizens and improve safety for officers. A bill before the Legislature this session aims to improve the timeliness of a 911 response. Lawmakers should continue to support measures that address the jurisdictional barriers that make enforcing the law on and near reservations complex.
Federal prosecutors allege a drug operation that originated in Detroit helped fuel the addiction problems on North Dakota reservations. Operation Blue Prairie, named for the color of oxycodone pills, resulted in the arrests of people U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley says are responsible for bringing tens of thousands of pills to the Fort Berthold, Turtle Mountain and Spirit Lake reservations. The drug traffickers can get a premium price for the pills in North Dakota compared to other areas.
North Dakota coronavirus statistics are headed in the right direction, with no deaths reported over the weekend. Hospitalizations are down 76% from a month ago, with 72 people hospitalized as of Sunday, according to the North Dakota Department of Health. Active coronavirus cases are below 2,000 statewide, and below 300 in Burleigh and Morton counties. Gov. Doug Burgum shifted all North Dakota counties to the yellow “moderate” risk level last week, citing the drop in active cases and hospitalizations as well as a decline in the state's positivity rate.