Hundreds hurt as Dakota pipeline protesters clash with police

Protesters against the Dakota Access Pipeline say hundreds of people were injured in clashes with law enforcement on a bridge near Cannonball, N.D., Sunday night.

At least 75 people remained on a barricaded bridge Monday morning after a standoff that lasted more than seven hours.

Maxine Herr of the Morton County Sheriff’s Office said the majority of the 400 demonstrators moved away from the bridge around 1:30 a.m.

Herr said one officer was injured when he was hit with a rock. Protesters hurled “multiple items,” Herr said, including burning logs and small propane tanks.

“They were rigging them to explode,” she said.

Protesters said their actions were peaceful and reported hundreds of injuries, including a broken kneecap and a cardiac arrest. Water cannons, tear gas, rubber bullets and blasts of sound were used on the protesters throughout the evening, they reported.

A news release from the Sacred Stone Camp at Cannonball called the use of the water cannons in 26-degree temperatures “indiscriminate.”

EMTs from the Standing Rock reservation were on site to assist at the medic tent on the Oceti Sakowin camp, whose entrance is about a quarter mile from the Backwater Bridge on Highway 1806.

Angela Bibens, a lawyer on the ground at Standing Rock, said in a podcast posted early Monday morning that law enforcement reacted aggressively.

“They deployed 20 mace canisters in a small area in less than five minutes to the point where people have lost bowel function,” Bibens said. “At least one seizure has been witnessed by our legal observers.”

One one woman suffered a broken kneecap and one elder “went into cardiac arrest” but was revived at the scene, Bibens said.

Greenpeace International released a statement Monday morning calling on President Obama to put an end to the violence at Standing Rock.

“The violent scenes at Standing Rock last night were nothing short of horrific," Greenpeace said. "It is clear that the militarized police response has completely disregarded the protection of human life. Law enforcement put people’s lives in danger last night as water protectors attempted to clear a path for emergency services to reach the camp."

The Sheriff’s Office described protesters as “very aggressive” and said they were “attempting to set multiple fires.”

The group flanked law enforcement and attempted to move in on the west, Herr said. Officers have been guarding the blocked Backwater Bridge since Oct. 27, when multiple fires were set as law enforcement moved protesters off a camp on private land.

Herr said the water cannons were less-than-lethal and were needed to protect officers and extinguish fires started by protesters.

“They had the numbers,” Herr said.

The Mandan County and Bismarck fire departments were on scene. Herr said the office does not release the number of officers deployed.

The Sacred Stone camp’s news release disputes that the cannons were used to douse fires, saying some fires were started by officer flares and were put out by demonstrators.

One arrest had been made as of Monday morning.

 

USA TODAY


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