UPDATE – 10/29, 9:15 a.m. EST: Another 141 protesters were arrested Thursday through Friday morning in Morton County, N.D., as law enforcement attempted to break up temporary settlement on private land where the Dakota Access Pipeline is currently being built.
The standoff turned violent as police also tried to clear approximately 330 demonstrators. According to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, protesters threw objects including Molotov cocktails at law enforcement personnel. There were also two reports of shooting incidents, including one where a woman fired three bullets at police.
Those arrested face charges including rioting and conspiracy. North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple announced that police were successful in breaking the protesters’ encampment.
Exactly 127 protesters were arrested in North Dakota on Saturday for trespassing on private property bought by Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) parent company, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, where construction is currently underway.
In addition, roadblocks were laid out on North Dakota Highway 1806 Sunday and Cannonball Ranch occupiers began to set up winter encampment after declaring “eminent domain”, which, according to Seven Council Fires coordinator Mekasi Camp-Horinek, will continue “until the pipeline is permanently stopped.”
“Today, the (Seven Council Fires) has enacted eminent domain on DAPL lands, claiming 1851 treat rights,” said Camp-Horinek, member of the Ponca Tribe in Oklahoma. “This is unceded land.”
Protesters from all over the United States have come to Morton County, N.D., since August to protest construction of the 1,172-mile pipeline that will transport crude oil from fields in northwest North Dakota to a tank farm in south-central Illinois.
While the Obama administration suspended construction activities within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers in September, the pipeline is currently being built on private land, such as at the Cannonball Ranch where Native American burial sites are located.
On Saturday morning, Indian tribal members, environmental activists and journalists started on an eight-mile “prayer walk” to a DAPL construction site close to the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, where over 100 people were arrested with a 30-minute span. According to The Intercept, detainees were brought to the county jail in Mandan, where they were not offered food or water, or to make phone calls, for eight hours.
“Individuals trespassing on private property can’t claim eminent domain to justify their criminal actions,” said Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier.
More protests on Sunday in Morton County were captured on video via drones, but the unmanned aircrafts were shot down by police after flying toward a law enforcement helicopter “in a threatening manner.” Sheriff Kirchmeier later said the media drones “generally are not being operated within . . . FAA guidelines”.
Energy Transfer Partners issued a statement Tuesday warning pipeline demonstrators that, “all trespassers [on private property] will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and removed from the land.”
While a majority of the nearly 300 picketers that have been arrested in North Dakota since August face misdemeanor trespassing and criminal mischief charges, a few of the anti-pipeline activists are charged with felony crimes.
On Tuesday, Oct. 11, a documentary film-maker, Deia Schlosberg, was arrested in Walhalla, N.D., and charged with three felony counts of conspiracy for videoing a Climate Direct Action activist turn off a pipeline valve. Schlosberg faces 45-years in prison if convicted.
The same day, Lindsey Goodwin-Grayzel and Carl Davis were arrested in Washington state for filming another activist, associated with the same group, who broke into a Trans Mountain Pipeline facility. Both individuals are charged with felony trespassing and robbery felonies and could be imprisoned for a maximum of 30 years.
While the DAPL protests have not gained a significant amount of press coverage from the mainstream media, former Vice President Al Gore issued a statement Tuesday in support of the efforts made by Native Americans and environmental activists in North Dakota.
“The non-violent resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline is also one of the frontline struggles that collectively mark a turning point in the decision by humanity to turn away from the destructive path we have been following and aim instead toward a clean energy future for all,” Gore wrote.
“The courage and eloquence of the Standing Rock Sioux in calling all of us to recognize that in their words, ‘Water is Life,’ should be applauded, not silenced by those who are driven by their business model to continue spewing harmful global warming pollution into our Earth’s atmosphere.”
Watch a video of Saturday’s protest and confrontation with law enforcement from Intercept journalist Jihan Hafiz below:
[RT America] [AP via Fox News] [The Intercept] [Reuters] [Photo courtesy James MacPherson/AP via NPR]