ND pipeline protests move to private land

ND pipeline protests move to private land
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A tense protest over the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota has moved to land held by the company hoping to develop the project, according to reports. 

A group of up to 100 protesters has established a staging ground on land purchased by Energy Transfer Partners in September, The Associated Press reported. Protesters had previously established a camp on federal land in the state.

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Local law enforcement officials said they don’t have enough personnel to arrest that many protesters. Authorities from Wisconsin, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming, Indiana and Nebraska are providing officers for the effort, according to the AP, and officials still hope to negotiate, rather than arrest, the people on the scene.

Energy Transfer Partners purchased the land, a ranch of more than 6,000 acres, in September. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe says the company’s construction work on the ranch damaged cultural artifacts there. 

Law enforcement officials have called on the tribe’s chairman to ask protesters to move off the land, the Dickinson Press reported, saying the protests are “disrupting the lives and injuring the economic well-being of everyone that lives in the area.”

In a statement, Chairman Dave Archambault called on a Department of Justice civil rights investigation into policing tactics in the region after hundreds of protesters have been arrested there, including 126 people over the weekend. The Dickinson Press reported that 269 people have been arrested since Aug. 10. 

“I am seeking a Justice Department investigation because I am concerned about the safety of the people,” Archambault said in a statement.

“Too often these kinds of investigations take place only after some use of excessive force by the police creates a tragedy. I hope and pray that the Department will see the wisdom of acting now to prevent such an outcome.”