Protesters Pushed Back After Mass Arrests At North Dakota Pipeline Site
Above Photo: Tires burn as armed soldiers and law enforcement officers stand in formation to force out Dakota access pipeline protesters. Photograph: Mike McCleary/AP
Police made arrests and used pepper spray on activists, who have been standing their ground and refusing to back down over the disputed oil pipeline
Here’s where things stand at 10pm EST
Things are calming down at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, as night falls. It’s been an eventful day.
- More than 200 police in riot gear deployed pepper spray and armored vehicles to push protesters off land belonging to the pipeline company
- At least 16 people were arrested, though Morton County sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said that more were en route to be processed
- Kirchmeier said that police would be on the scene “as long as it takes”
- Protesters reported police use of stun guns, rubber bullets and beanbag rounds,though Kirchmeier said that they were not deployed “as far as I know”
- A group of activists protested outside Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Brooklyn in solidarity
Number of arrests rises to 117
117 protesters have been arrested at the Standing Rock camp, a spokesperson for the Morton County sheriff’s department says.
“Currently law enforcement is engaged in a situation at the backwater bridge, just north of the main camp. Protester have lit a fire near the bridge,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
117 protesters have been arrested. Morton County will be utilizing other jails in this mass arrest operation.
Pipeline protest in pictures
Here are some of the latest images from photographers on the frontline of today’s standoff:
Standing Rock tribal chairman Dave Archambault just released a statement. “Militarized law enforcement agencies moved in on water protectors with tanks and riot gear today,” the statement says. “We continue to pray for peace. We call on the state of North Dakota to oversee the actions of local law enforcement to, first and foremost, ensure everyone’s safety.”
The statement continues:
The Department of Justice must send overseers immediately to ensure the protection of First Amendment rights and the safety of thousands here at Standing Rock. DOJ can no longer ignore our requests. If harm comes to any who come here to stand in solidarity with us, it is on their watch. They must step in and hold the state of North Dakota and Morton County accountable for their acts of violence against innocent, prayerful people.
The Obama administration has asked DAPL to voluntarily halt construction until the review process has been completed, but DAPL has ignored these repeated requests. By deploying law enforcement to support DAPL construction, the State of North Dakota is collaborating with Energy Transfer Partners and escalating tensions.
We need our state and federal governments to bring justice and peace to our lands, not the force of armored vehicles.
We have repeatedly seen a disproportionate response from law enforcement to water protectors’ nonviolent exercise of their constitutional rights. Today we have witnessed people praying in peace, yet attacked with pepper spray, rubber bullets, sound and concussion cannons. We urge state and federal government agencies to give this tense situation their immediate and close attention.
We also call on the thousands of water protectors who stand in solidarity with us against DAPL to remain in peace and prayer. Any act of violence hurts our cause and is not welcome here. We invite all supporters to join us in prayer that, ultimately, the right decision—the moral decision—is made to protect our people, our sacred places, our land and our resources.
We won’t step down from this fight. As peoples of this earth, we all need water. This is about our water, our rights, and our dignity as human beings.
The Morton County sheriff’s department has released a new statement clarifying their earlier release regarding firearm incidents:
At around 5:30 law enforcement received a report of gun shots being fired near a bridge just north of the main camp. A person was injured. Law enforcement have one person in custody.
In a separate incident, a woman was being placed under arrest and pulled a weapon and fired three shots near officers who were holding a line. She was taken into custody. No officers were injured.
One key difference is that officials are now saying that a weapon was fired “near officers” rather than “at” officers, as the previous statement alleged.
Some pictures from today’s events:
Reports of incidents involving firearms
A spokesperson for the Morton County sheriff’s department has sent the Guardian a statement about several separate incidents involving firearms at the protest today, including one in which a woman being placed under arrest allegedly shot at law enforcement officers.
The statement in full:
We have received reports of several incidents involving firearms.
1) Situation involved a private individual who was run off the road by protestors. The victim was shot in the hand and is being treated. An investigation in underway. No law enforcement was involved with this shooting.
2) At the front line on Highway 1806, a woman who was being placed under arrest, pulled a .38 caliber revolver and fired three shots at law enforcement, narrowly missing a sheriff’s deputy. She was taken into custody with no shots fired by law enforcement.
3) Ten shots were reported in the area. It’s possible it is local hunters. This incident is under investigation.
Democratic nominee for president Hillary Clinton has weighed in on the situation. In a statement to NBC News, Clinton campaign spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said:
From the beginning of this campaign, Secretary Clinton has been clear that she thinks all voices should be heard and all views considered in federal infrastructure projects. Now, all of the parties involved — including the federal government, the pipeline company and contractors, the state of North Dakota, and the tribes — need to find a path forward that serves the broadest public interest. As that happens, it’s important that on the ground in North Dakota, everyone respects demonstrators’ rights to protest peacefully, and workers’ rights to do their jobs safely.
Police have cleared protesters from the land owned by the pipeline construction company
Here’s a little more about what exactly that means.
The original protest camp – Sacred Stone – is on tribal land owned by Lakota Sioux tribal member Ladonna Allard, on the west bank of the Missouri river, just south of where the smaller Cannonball river flows into it.
As it grew, the camp multiplied and spread. Teepees sprung up along the west bank of the Cannonball – the new camp was formed by Rosebud Sioux – and then up to the county road, and then across the road bridge on to the east bank.
The area on the east bank, where there is much more space, became the main camp once the ranks of protesters swelled in August. That land is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Further east along the road, toward the Missouri river, is the construction site. That’s the place that protesters erected teepees in protest today, and it is that site from which they have been cleared by police.
Protesters are currently being pushed back along the county road towards the main camp on the east bank of the Cannonball, where they will be allowed – for now – to stay, according to Morton County sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier.
Protesters have been pushed out of the North Camp, on land owned by Dakota Access, and are being pushed down the road back to the original camp by police driving armored vehicles.
Sheriff Kirchmeier: we’ll be here ‘as long as it takes’
In a press conference just now, Morton County sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said that “numerous more arrestees” on top of the 16 already confirmed are en route to the police station. “I can’t give you numbers, but right now they are arresting individuals … [who will be charged with] anywhere from public nuisance to inciting a riot.
He said that the north camp, which is on land owned by the Dakota Access pipeline’s parent company, was now clear, but he said that police were planning to be there “as long as it takes” to keep protesters off the pipeline’s land.
Kirchmeier confirmed that pepper spray had been used but said that tear gas, rubber bullets or beanbag rounds had not been deployed – “Not that I’m aware of.”
He said that there were more than 200 police officers on the scene.