The armed raid of an Alaskan mining town by the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] and others has sparked a big controversy in the state and around the country.
The remote town of Chicken, Alaska has now become the center of a debate surrounding a raid that occurred last month, one which left many asking why the agencies who conducted the raid had armed officers go in to search for violations of the Clean Water Act.
The town, which has a population of 17, was shaken after the group of agencies pushed in with a taskforce of fully armed officers wearing POLICE jackets. The agencies involved in the raid include the EPA, FBI, Alaska Department of Public Safety, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Bureau of Land Management, Coast Guard, National Park Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service.
The incursion was initially reported to have happened so that authorities could search for water pollution violations, but the federal officials involved said that a tip from Alaska State Troopers regarding drug and human trafficking in the remote town prompted the thorough armed raid. A spokesperson for the troopers, however, told the Alaska Dispatch that no such tip was ever given to the EPA.
"The Alaska State Troopers did not advise the EPA that there was dangerous drug activity,” said spokeswoman Megan Peters. “We do not have evidence to suggest that is occurring.”
Now, many are outraged at the conduct presented by the agencies in the town of 17, saying that the use of force and the decision to be armed was unacceptable. State lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are in agreement that the incident was not handled correctly, and Alaskan Governor Sean Parnell says that they were not aware that this was going to happen until the last minute.
“With a mere last minute notification to our DEC commissioner, Alaska’s attorney general, and the Department of Public Safety, the EPA, BLM and a DEC investigator took it upon themselves to swoop in on unsuspecting miners in remote Alaska,” said Parnell.
Since the raid on Chicken last month, recent reports reveal that at least 70 federal agencies have armed workers, with close to 40 of them having fully armed divisions despite the fact that none are involved with law enforcement in any way. It’s reported that more than 120,000 officers are able to carry guns and make arrests.
The staggering numbers have caused many to question why agencies like the EPA and Fish and Wildlife Service have any armed workers in the first place, while the agencies continue to defend themselves, saying that it is a necessary part of what they do.