Dozens defy deadline to leave Dakota pipeline protest camp
Feb 26 2017 by Harriet Stone
Once occupied by thousands of people, the camp had dwindled to several hundred in the past few weeks and almost all of those left voluntarily prior to the deadline. North Dakota law enforcement does not have jurisdiction in that area, Kirchmeier said.
The ground conditions within the camp today created hazards in that it was very muddy and some law enforcement vehicles got stuck and heavy equipment was required to remove them.
"We're going to continue to work with North Dakota as we aim to have a permissive environment for contractors", said corps Col. John Henderson. "That river brings life to the people". She has since moved to another camp near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's reservation. Hundreds left peacefully on Wednesday after the 2 p.m. deadline, and 10 were arrested hours later after they taunted cops. On Twitter and Facebook, livestreaming showed more than 50 people leaving the camp in a "prayer walk".
Law enforcement in North Dakota emptied what had been the largest of the Dakota Access Pipeline opposition camps on Thursday by arresting dozens of protesters who disobeyed orders to leave. Authorities say 46 people were taken into custody, including a group of military veterans who had to be carried out. They face possible misdemeanor charges of obstructing a government function.
The protesters lit about 20 fires on Wednesday, which were characterized as ceremonial, with many saying they would rather burn camp structures than have authorities seize and destroy them. The state offered transportation to the Bismarck center to anyone who wanted it. He urged protesters to "take advantage of these amenities".
The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs set up a checkpoint on the south side of the Cannonball Bridge to prevent people from entering the camp, though people were allowed to leave.
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Highway Patrol Lt. Tom Iverson says the immediate goal is to clean up the camp that has existed since August and once housed thousands of people. The emergency evacuation order said the protest site is located in a flood plain, and that campers are at risk as snowmelt accelerates in warmer temperatures.
For weeks, demonstrators have been working toward cleaning up and vacating the camp to get out of the way of the expected seasonal flooding of the Missouri River. "The lawsuits, the legal battles, they haven't succeeded yet". The tribe, which claims its members were never meaningfully consulted before construction began, sued in July to block the pipeline. Construction had been stalled for months, as lawsuits challenging the permitting process for the pipeline made their way through the courts. "We must expose every institution pushing the Dakota Access Pipeline project through and projects like it".
The so-called Sacred Stone Camp was set up by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe with the help of other Native American tribes and environmentalists in mid-2016. The Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux, whose reservation is downstream, say Dakota Access threatens their drinking water and cultural sites.
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Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the 1,172-mile pipeline from the Bakken to IL, says the pipeline will be safely installed at least 92 feet below Lake Oahe, a dammed section of the Missouri River, and will include several safeguards to prevent and detect leaks.