BISMARCK – Up to 120 demonstrators at the site of the Dakota Access Pipeline,who planned to to halt construction of a disputed oil pipeline, have been cleared by law enforcement from various counties, cities, state agencies and out-of-state agencies.
Thursday morning at 11:15 authorities began taking steps to remove the illegal roadblocks and protesters trespassing on private property near Highway 1806.
Protesters, who included Native American groups, had occupied the site since Monday, claiming they were the land’s rightful owners via an 1851 treaty with the U.S. government. Authorities took several demonstrators into custody at the scene for violent acts, including a woman who fired several shots from a .38 caliber revolver at police, and a man who shot another in the hand.
Local police and two armored vehicles, were seen slowly approaching a group of activists during the confrontation, using pepper spray and firing bean bags. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement that pepper spray was used on some of the estimated 330 protesters, some of whom tried to assault the police. “This is not about the pipeline. This is not about those who wish to legally protest. This is about the rule of law,” Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said in a statement.
“117 protesters have been arrested. Morton County will be utilizing other jails in this mass arrest operation.”
In response to authorities clearing the demonstration site, Governor Jack Dalrymple said “private property is not the place to carry out a peaceful protest.”
Highway 1806 continues to be closed between Fort Rice and Cannonball.