76 arrested after DAPL protesters attempt to set up new camp
CANNON BALL, N.D. – Authorities arrested dozens of Dakota Access Pipeline protesters Wednesday, including a former Congressional candidate.
Many of those who had abandoned the old camp in the floodplain moved to higher ground, which happens to belong to the company building the pipeline.
Law enforcement converged on the new camp with humvees and front end loaders to push protesters back on Highway 1806.
The new camp, with seven tepee frames representing the seven tribes, was erected on a hill Wednesday morning a quarter mile from the original Oceti Sakowin Camp.
A group of activists who said they wanted to establish a more peaceful and prayerful protest presence built the new dwelling.
“We want to make it more spiritual, we want to make it a difference from the old Oceti. We want to call this camp the Last Child Camp,” says Rance Sneed, protester.
This group of activists say the idea for the camp came in a vision about two weeks ago
This new encampment didn’t go unnoticed by law enforcement who assembled a small force of vehicles and officers to raid it before more demonstrators could put down roots.
“It was then decided that we would move into the area and clear the protesters from that hill at which that was done on that private land,” says Lt. Tom Iverson ND Highway Patrol.
“This is just what Crazy Horse went through when he took his last breath. He fought to his last breath, so we can be who we are, live our lives the way it was intended by the creator,” says Julian Bearrunner, protester.
Before all the tepees were up, a convoy of humvees and heavy equipment pushed protesters who had gathered on Highway 1806 back to the entrance of the new protest camp.
“It’s unfortunate that they decided to trespass on there and really forcing law enforcement in this situation to really having to move in to this area and clear them from the hill,” says Iverson.
Officers made their way up the hill to the camp and threatened to arrest the occupants for trespassing.
When they refused to move, 76 of them were taken into custody, including former Democratic Congressional Candidate Chase Iron Eyes.
North Dakota police arrested 76 people one day after federal officials suggested that the government could soon approve the final stage of pipeline construction
by Sam Levin, The Guardian, Feb 1, 2017
North Dakota police have arrested 76 people at Standing Rock one day after federal officials suggested that the government could soon approve the final stage of construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.
The arrests occurred after a group of activists, who call themselves water protectors, established a new camp near the pipeline construction.
Rob Keller, spokesman for the Morton County sheriff’s office, told the Guardian Wednesday night that it was too soon to say what charges were being filed. In a statement, he claimed that a “rogue group of protesters” had trespassed on private property.
“A lot of water protectors really felt that we needed to make some sort of stand as far as treaty rights,” said Linda Black Elk, a member of the Catawba Nation. “We basically started to see police mobilizing from all directions. Someone came along and told us we had about 15 minutes before the camp would get raided.”
Black Elk, who works with the Standing Rock Medic & Healer Council, said there were initially hundreds of activists at the new camp but that those who did not want to be taken into custody ultimately decided to retreat.
“There were a lot of people who felt like the prospect of treaty rights was something worth getting arrested over,” she said.
The tense confrontation comes one week after Donald Trump issued an order demanding the revival of the Dakota Access pipeline and the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, reversing Barack Obama’s actions.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has long argued that the $3.8bn pipeline threatens its water supply and sacred lands, has vowed to fight the order. Activists are seeking to assert indigenous treaty rights, which they say the government and the oil company have violated.
MG Malcolm Frost, US army chief of public affairs, said in a statement on Wednesday that the government was acting on Trump’s order “to expeditiously review requests for approvals to construct and operate the Dakota Access pipeline in compliance with the law”.
Some indigenous and environmental activists have been camped out by the pipeline project for months, remaining in place through the cold North Dakota winter. A group mobilized Wednesday to form the new camp, which quickly attracted attention of local law enforcement.
The Morton County sheriff’s office said it took action to “enforce the law and evict” the “illegal camp” after people refused to leave. At around 3.30pm, police began making arrests.
“Our law enforcement officers conducted themselves in a safe and responsible manner,” Morton County sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said in a statement.
The sheriff’s office – which has now made a total of nearly 700 arrests since the Standing Rock demonstrations escalated last summer – said the camp was cleared by 4pm. The activists were taken to five different jails across North Dakota.
Two medics were arrested, according to Noah Morris, a medic who has been at Standing Rock for months.
“We’re always concerned when any of our friends or comrades end up in the hands of the state,” said Morris, who monitored the actions from a distance and was not apprehended. “We hope they act in a professional manner and don’t harm them in any way and don’t target them for extended detention.”
“We’re trying to get them out of that situation as soon as possible,” said Black Elk, who was not arrested. “We have completely lost faith in local law enforcement and their ability to control themselves.”
She added: “We’re standing up for our first amendment rights. We’re standing up for our treaty rights … They are punishing us for that.”