About 80 people gathered on the north steps of the Capitol today to let Governor Steve Bullock and Attorney General Tim Fox know they don't like Montana police being sent to help with security around the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in North Dakota.
Late last month North Dakota officials asked Montana for law enforcement help under a mutual aid compact between the states. Both Fox and Bullock approved sending 10 state highway patrol troopers, who joined the police force at Standing Rock, and returned to Montana Sunday.
Dustin Monroe, of Native Generational Change, who organized today's protest said that is inappropriate in this case.
"That's for natural disasters, floods," Monroe said. "Yes, help North Dakota if there's a flood. Yes, I believe in that."
The state legislature's American Indian Caucus sent Governor Bullock a letter protesting Montana police being sent to Standing Rock because they, like Monroe, say police there are committing human rights violations against protesters.
"They're there to protect the corporation, they're not there to protect people."
Among those who spoke were State Senator Sharon Stewart-Peregoy from Crow Agency.
"When we as citizens of the state of Montana see our law enforcement, because of a loophole, being sent over to go and to protect a corporation, that is the time to say stop! That is the time to say no," Stewart-Peregoy told the crowd.
After hearing protests from Montana's American Indian Caucus and others, Bullock issued a press release Thursday promising to consult with state tribal leaders before taking such action again.
The governor says there are no requests from North Dakota for similar assistance at this time.