DAPL Protesters Arrested Amid Finger Pointing From Both Sides

All has been peaceful between Dakota Access Pipeline protesters, the water protectors, and law enforcement in and around Cannon Ball, North Dakota since December 4 until Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016, when five protesters were arrested for criminal trespassing.

On Wednesday, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier reported that Dakota pipeline protesters had breached what Kirchmeier referred to as a “mutual agreement,” referring to the water protectors staying off the Backwater Bridge. According to authorities, first a group of protesters crossed the Cannonball River and on to land belonging to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a trespassing violation that resulted in the arrest of five protesters, then in the evening about 100 protesters gathered on the Backwater Bridge and trying to remove a “No Trespassing” sign that resulted in a SWAT team responding and using less-than-lethal methods for crowd dispersal.

Kirchmeier released a statement indicating the protesters’ actions signaled their unwillingness to be peaceful, while Allison Renville, one of the protesters remaining at Oceti Sakowin accused law enforcement of looking for an excuse for a confrontation with the protesters.

It was on Dec. 4, 2016, that the Army Corps of Engineers announced their decision not to grant an easement that Energy Transfer Partners need to complete construction of the nearly 1,200 mile-long Dakota Access Pipeline. At that time there were estimated to be between 7,000 and 8,000 protesters in the Oceti Sakowin camp alone, among whom were the more than 1,000 veterans who had come to stand in solidarity with the Native Americans.

It was after that announcement that the Standing Rock Sioux chairman, Dave Archambault II, asked the protesters to disperse from the camps, thanking them for their diligence and weathering of the hardships and citing concerns for their health and safety in the midst of the North Dakota winter as his rationale. Still, hundreds of protesters remain at the camps near the Dakota Access Pipeline.

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