Heavily militarized police and National Guard troops advanced on a Standing Rock camp, arresting no less than 40
Scores of heavily militarized police and National Guard troops advanced on a camp at Standing Rock Wednesday evening, arresting at least 50 water protectors and stirring fears forceful evacuations of remaining camps.
A press statement issued by the North Dakota Joint Information Center suggested the impetus for the raid had to do with legality of the newest camp:
“As the Governor, the Morton County Sheriff and the Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have said, it is imperative the protest camps be vacated and the areas cleared for public safety and environmental protection before flooding begins in early spring. As recently as Sunday, ongoing dialogue between all parties including all leaders from the various protester camps resulted in agreements to start cleaning up the camps, to have protesters leave the area and for steps by law enforcement to help de-escalate the situation and move the region back to normalcy […]
“Counter to these good faith efforts, a rogue group of some of the more aggressive elements of the protest camp have started to establish another illegal camp on private property in direct opposition to the wishes of the tribal council, district leaders and more peaceful elements of the protesters.
“As with any acts of criminal trespass, the rogue group could face arrest if they refuse to leave the private property or if they act in any aggressive or violent way toward law enforcement or employees of the commercial company that owns the property.”
Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier asserted, “Public safety, including that of residents and protesters alike, is our number one priority.”
CBC reports 40 water protectors had been arrested, but posts to social media indicated the number had surpassed 50 — but law enforcement armored vehicles and equipment remained poised on Highway 1806 and ready to perform further raids upon nightfall.
Social media and livestream reports indicated Bureau of Indian Affairs police — bolstered by 20 additional officers recently — were enforcing a roadblock near the camps, to prevent any additional water protectors from entrance.
Livestreamers showed footage of rows of armored vehicles, some with gun turrets, as well as LRAD, MRAP, and various other military surplus equipment along Highway 1806 just before dusk on Wednesday. Shiyé Bidzíí, longtime livestreamer of the #NoDAPL movement, stated in a video that leader and supporter of Dakota Access Pipeline opposition, Chase Ironeyes, had been among those arrested in the raid on the new camp.
With the increased strictures against protest and all signs indicating it could be a matter of hours before Energy Transfer Partners resumes drilling for the final segment of the pipeline, it’s possible law enforcement could perform further — if not more violent — raids in the days to come.
This is a developing story and will be updated when and if new information becomes available.