Wisconsin troopers not wearing name tags in North Dakota

MADISON — Seventeen Wisconsin State Patrol troopers sent to North Dakota to help disperse oil pipeline protesters aren't wearing name tags or numbers on their uniforms.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports (http://bit.ly/2mzrk7V) the anonymity is intended to protect the officers but faces criticism from civil rights advocates.

Molly Collins of the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin says law enforcement shouldn't intimidate free-speech rights by covering up their name tags. She says it's an implicit threat that police will engage in practices for which they don't want to be held accountable.

Jim Palmer of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association says officers generally should wear name badges or unique identifying numbers. But he says there should still be adequate means for the Patrol to effectively identify and investigate any matter involving the troopers.

State Representative Jonathan Brostoff issued the below statement:

“While this pact has a noble purpose, I believe it is being used in a way that does not truly fit its original intended purpose, not only practically but morally. Under Wisconsin Statute 323.80, Article 2, Section B, the purpose of providing such assistance to a requesting state is defined as “essential to the safety, care, and welfare of the people in the event of any emergency or disaster declared by a party state.” In the months since the actions against DAPL began, it has been the safety of the water protectors that has been compromised, not of the officers present nor other North Dakotans.

For 6 months, water protectors have been living in camps in Cannonball, North Dakota and peacefully resisting the construction of the Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partner’s Dakota Access Pipeline. If finalized, the pipeline would cross under Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota that serves as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s drinking water source. Since the beginning of the No DAPL protests alone in April 2016, close to 30 pipeline bursts have been reported in the United States. One of these occurred just 150 miles from Cannonball, spilling 176,000 gallons. Of that, 130,000 gallons of oil leaked into Ash Coulee Creek.

Our country’s history is plagued with the taking of lives and rights of First Nation’s people. As a state, Wisconsin should stand with its 11 federally recognized tribes, all of which support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe water protectors fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline.  We, as a state, must not participate in further subjugation of the political power of Native American people to the benefit of the interests of the rich.”