Authorities move in on Dakota Access protesters

Authorities move in on Dakota Access protesters
© Erik Molvar

Law enforcement officers confronted protesters opposed to an oil pipeline project in North Dakota on Thursday, reportedly arresting some demonstrators and moving them off private land. 

Armed soldiers and police began moving a crowd of 200 protesters away from a camp set up on land owned by Energy Transfer Partners near Cannon Ball, N.D., according to The Associated Press

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The AP reported that “several protesters” were put into trucks, including one handcuffed authorities.

The protesters are demonstrating against the Dakota Access pipeline, a $3.8 billion, 1,170-mile project that a North Dakota tribe says threatens its cultural heritage sites and drinking water supplies. 

This week, a group of protesters moved onto land Energy Partners purchased last month, and local law enforcement officials said they would eventually work to get the protesters off that land. 

Authorities on Thursday began removing protesters from roadblocks they had set up nearby. The Dickinson Press reported that the protesters set fire to tires and logs, and broke fences around a pipeline construction site as officers moved in. 

The clash between protesters and law enforcement was continued into Thursday afternoon. 

Police officials have called the protests a public safety issue, saying demonstrators there can’t block area roads. 

But groups opposed to the pipeline have criticized law enforcement for what they consider heavy-handed policing tactics against protesters. Before Thursday, more than 260 people had been arrested in connection with the anti-pipeline protests in North Dakota. 

The chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which is suing over the pipeline project, this week called for a Department of Justice civil rights investigation into the arrests.