Many politicians have remained silent amid an increasingly troubling situation at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota. But Minnesota Sen. Al Franken broke away from his fellow Democrats after Sunday’s violent clash between “water protectors” and law enforcement.
The following day, Franken penned a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, urging the Justice Department to intervene on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and other peaceful demonstrators.
“The reported use of water cannons for crowd control in sub-freezing temperatures is excessive and unnecessary, and I urge you to take action to protect the First Amendment rights of [protesters], and the physical safety of all involved parties,” Franken wrote.
As a citizen of Minnesota, which also faces harsh winters, Franken understands the danger of water cannons in 20-degree weather. “Video of the incident appears to show that the water cannons were not simply being used for fire control, or even crowd control, but were often directed at small crowds or even individual [protesters],” he continued. “Combined with the onset of wintry weather, water cannons are extremely dangerous and potentially lethal weapons, and I urge you to investigate their use on [protesters].”