Ohio State Highway Patrol assisting police at North Dakota protests

FILE - In this Oct. 27, 2016 file photo, Dakota Access Pipeline protesters sit in a prayer circle at the Front Line Camp as a line of law enforcement officers make their way across the camp to remove the protesters and relocate to the overflow camp a few miles to the south on Highway 1806 in Morton County, N.D. (Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP, File)

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio is now involved in the North Dakota pipeline protests. Nearly 40 Ohio State Highway Patrol Troopers were sent over the weekend. We know at least 26,000 people aren’t happy about the move.

A Columbus woman started the petition Sunday and as of Wednesday night it already had more than 26,000 signatures. She calls on Ohio Governor John Kasich to recall the troopers and has seen an outpouring of support.

 Columbus resident Rudy Gerdeman is saving every dime he makes to get to North Dakota.

“I’m disgusted. I’m kind of disgusted with the way our country is treating the indigenous people of this country,” said Gerdeman.

The Columbus resident is part of a growing group of local voices who say the government is trampling on the rights of Native Americans.

“It’ disturbing that civil rights are being taken away from people and just kind of thrown out the door at this point,” he said.

Saturday, the Ohio State Highway Patrol sent 37 troopers from across the state to the protests.

Cathy Cowan Becker started a petition to bring the officers back.

“I was pretty surprised. I mean I knew a lot of people were concerned about this, but it’s really just taken off,” said Cowan Becker.

She said the police force should be protecting the people, not a pipeline that threatens their water supply and livelihoods.

“If that pipeline leaks, it’s going to basically poison their water supply,” she said.

Gerdeman said it’s only a matter of time.

“It’s going to spill at some point, they don’t know when, it’s a time bomb,” said Gerdeman.

Once he raises enough money, he says he’ll spend a month, if not more with protestors.

“My heart belongs out there.”

 A spokesperson for Governor Kasich referred NBC4 to the Highway Patrol.

It wouldn’t go on camera, but said the costs of sending the troopers will be reimbursed by the state of North Dakota.

To sign the petition visit: https://www.change.org/p/john-kasich-tell-ohio-gov-john-kasich-to-recall-37-state-troopers-from-north-dakota

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