Dakota pipeline protesters arrested, camp set on fire
The remaining camp used by pipeline protesters in the US state of North Dakota has been torched after yet another raid by police officers.
At least nine Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protesters were arrested at the Oceti Sakowin camp on Wednesday night, after overstaying a police ultimatum to evacuate the area.
Upon leaving, some protesters set fire to a number of tents and buildings that Native Americans and activists had used during their months-long protest against the controversial pipeline.
Led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, the national movement sought to stop the project over fears that it could contaminate Native American people’s water resources and their sacred burial grounds.
The administration of former president Barack Obama was forced to halt the project after numerous protests across the country. President Donald Trump, however, prompted fresh protests by authorizing DAPL’s completion.
North Dakota’s Republican Governor Doug Burgum and the US Army Corps of Engineers had ordered the protesters to evacuate Oceti Sakowin, which is located on Army Corps land in Cannon Ball, by Wednesday afternoon.
North Dakota Highway Patrol Lt. Tom Iverson said Wednesday that the arrestees were part of a 75-strong group of protesters who “taunted” law enforcement officers. Hundreds of officers from several states were present at the region to handle any possible confrontation.
Iverson noted that one of the detained protesters may have been injured in the process.
Previous encounters between police and protesters often ended in violence, with officers using water cannons, tear gas and trained dogs to disperse the crowd, who often braved snow and minus zero temperatures.
According to state officials, protesters had started about 20 fires, causing two explosions. Two youngsters were taken to a nearby hospital for burns.
Dozens of protesters stayed outside the camp after the deadline, according to witnesses. At its peak, Oceti Sakowin housed 5,000 to 10,000 protesters.
"You can't arrest a movement. You can't arrest a spiritual revolution," Chase Iron Eyes, a Standing Rock Sioux member, said.
The 1,100-mile (1,770-km) pipeline, which would transport crude oil from North Dakota to refineries in the US Gulf Coast, is expected to be completed in two weeks, Energy Transfer, the company behind the project, said Tuesday.
Trump said last month that the project would put thousands of Americans back to work.