There were tensions between North Dakota police and protesters again this Sunday. A group of around 400 people was protesting the Dakota Access pipeline. As the protest became more animated, the protesters tried to move past a bridge that had been barricaded. They were trying to get to the construction sites of the controversial pipeline project. The police took the decision to stop their advance. There were clashes between the police and protesters. The police then used water cannons on the crowd so as to disperse them. The standoff between North Dakota police and protesters lasted until late in the night on Sunday.
Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters Face the Police
Temperatures in Cannon Ball, North Dakota had dropped into the 20s. Despite the cold weather, the police decided to use water cannons on the crowd. The police were already dressed in riot gear and prepared to face off the protesters. They formed a line to prevent the protesters from marching up the road. A hose that was on top of an armored vehicle was used to spray the crowd with pressurized water. Protesters also said that the police used rubber bullets and tear gas. Some also say that there were concussion grenades.
There was a Facebook Live video shot at the scene. Despite the grainy quality of the images, you can see a crowd of people on Highway 1806 around the area of the Backwater Bridge. Flood lights are throwing an incredible amount of light on the grass and on the road. From the vicinity of police vehicles, you can see smoke and water vapor coming up.
Around 6 p.m. is when protesters started to make a move towards the bridge. Since late October the bridge had been blocked. Authorities and protesters had faced off there towards the end of October. There were still burned out trucks blocking the bridge. Additionally, the police set up barriers made of wire and concrete on the bridge. The plan was to cut off the access of the protesters to the construction area. The bridge is about a mile to the south of where the developer of the pipeline plans to start drilling.
Police Take Steps to Disperse “Ongoing Riot”
However, the protesters seemed determined to make their way to the construction site. So, they started moving some of the burned-out trucks out of their way. The protesters call themselves “water protectors”. They say that the barricade effectively cuts off the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Emergency services would have a difficult time getting there because of the barricade. Also, it cuts off an improvised camp that they had set up nearby. They have used that camp as a staging ground for their demonstrations.
After protesters moved one of the trucks that were blocking the road, police responded. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department said that there were 400 people according to their estimates. The police interpreted their actions as them trying to “breach” the bridge. The Sheriff’s Department qualified the situation as an “ongoing riot” and proceeded accordingly. At least one person was arrested during the protests.
Image source: here.