By February 22, 2017 Read More →

Deadline nears for protesters to leave camp near Dakota Access Pipeline

Dakota Access

The Oceti Sakowin protest camp near the site of the Dakota Access pipeline in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Governor Doug Burgum and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have set a Feb. 22 deadline for demonstrators to vacate and cleanup the camp. North Dakota Joint Information Center photo.

Dakota Access Pipeline

By Terray Sylvester

CANNON BALL, N.D., Feb 22 (Reuters) – Protesters opposed to the Dakota Access pipeline braced for a showdown with authorities as some vowed to defy Wednesday’s deadline to abandon the camp they have occupied for months in a bid to halt the project.

President Donald Trump has pushed for the completion of the multibillion-dollar pipeline since he took office last month, despite objections from Native Americans and environmental activists who say it threatens the water resources and sacred land of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Republican Governor Doug Burgum and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers set a Wednesday afternoon deadline for protesters to leave the Oceti Sakowin camp, located on Army Corps land in Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

Freezing rain and snow fell on Wednesday morning and plumes of smoke rose from the camp, as some demonstrators ceremonially burned some of the camp’s tents and other structures in what they said was a tradition before leaving a dwelling place.

Chase Iron Eyes, a Standing Rock Sioux member, said the activists would all stay at the camp until the 2 p.m. CST (2000 GMT) deadline. Some would then be arrested, he said, adding that detention would not dampen their determination.

“There are a lot of grandmothers, there are a lot of women(at the camp). … There are people who have shown up to stand in solidarity with them,” he said in a video broadcast late Wednesday morning. “You can’t arrest a movement. You can’t arrest a spiritual revolution.”

Protesters and law enforcement have clashed multiple times and hundreds of people have been arrested since demonstrations began in August.

The Standing Rock Sioux asked protesters to leave the area in December as they challenged the pipeline plans in court, but some 300 demonstrators have remained.

Ed Higgins, a 39-year-old military veteran from Lowell, Massachusetts, said he has spent three months at the camp, and that he plans on getting arrested peacefully on Wednesday.

He said he was unsure how many other fellow protesters would be taken into custody: “We will not know until it happens.”

Law enforcement officials have urged people to leave the camp ahead of the deadline, saying they could be at risk from spring floods, as well as to remove anything that could be damaged during cleanup efforts.

The officials have agreed to a request by camp leaders that only Native American cleanup crews be used. One activist, HolyElk Lafferty, said she had asked that government-contracted crews not begin their work until after the camp is cleared.

“It would raise the alarm and panic and not promote a peaceful process today,” Lafferty said. “I want people to be safe on both sides.”

State officials have set up a travel assistance center to provide departing protesters with food, water and health check-ups, as well as a voucher for one night’s accommodation at a Bismarck hotel and a bus ticket home.

“We’re making sure that we’re taking care of people that may not have means,” said a spokesman for the state highway patrol, Lieutenant Tom Iverson.

Trump, a Republican, signed an executive order clearing the way for the $3.8 billion pipeline to proceed.

A judge denied a request earlier this month by two tribes seeking to halt construction. The tribes are seeking an injunction to order the Army Corps to withdraw the easement.

The pipeline will be complete and ready for oil between March 6 and April 1, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

(Reporting by Terray Sylvester in Cannon Ball, North Dakota and Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Tom Brown)

len webber

Posted in: News

Comments are closed.