(NaturalNews) Tensions are ratcheting up in a region of North Dakota where construction of a pipeline that will take oil to a refinery facility in Illinois is being built, as protestors objecting to the project are clashing with increasingly militarized police.
The Bismark Tribunereported that police and protestors clashed as authorities moved in to break up a camp on private property belonging to the pipeline developers.
Protestors had initially formed a line of no surrender, the paper said, but it became a line of retreat in the face of a militarized police presence that overwhelmed hundreds of Dakota Access Pipeline protestors, pushing them back from the front line of resistance to their main camp.
For about five hours on Thursday, beginning around noon, police officers pressed the protesters back about a half-mile on N.D. Highway 1806, which was away from a new camp they had built earlier in the week that sat directly atop the pipeline easement.
Rubber bullets, bean bags, smoke grenades and tasers
Unrest continued into the evening hours, however, as police said that two fires were started on a nearby bridge, and protestors began lobbing Molotov cocktails at officers. In addition, police reported two incidents where shots were fired.
The Tribune reported that one woman allegedly fired a handgun in the direction of police as she was being arrested, while an armed man who was reportedly run off the road by protesters, and was perhaps not connected to the protest, had to be treated for a gunshot wound to the hand.
As police moved in, some protestors were urging calm and prayer, but others threw rocks and water bottles at approaching officers. Eventually the crowd retreated under a barrage of pepper spray, rubber and bean bag bullets, smoke grenades and tasers.
By late afternoon, flames and thick plumes of smoke belched out of the cab of one of three Dakota Access Pipeline earth movers, while protestors walked back to their main camp on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ land.
In all, police arrested 141 people, the local sheriffs’ department said, charging suspects with engaging in a riot, maintaining a public nuisance, and conspiracy to endanger by fire and explosion.
A day before the violence, as reported by AMI Newswire, opponents of the pipeline barricaded a highway and pitched their camp on private land. These actions were led by members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
The previous weekend some 127 people had been arrested.
Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault II issued a statement last week in which he blamed the rising militarization of police for the increased tensions.
“The militarization of local law enforcement and enlistment of multiple law enforcement agencies from neighboring states is needlessly escalating violence and unlawful arrests against peaceful protesters at Standing Rock,” Archambault said, as quoted by AMI Newswire. “We do not condone reports of illegal actions, but believe the majority of peaceful protesters are reacting to strong-arm tactics and abuses by law enforcement.”
Destruction of burial grounds, water are chief concerns
Law enforcement officers countered by saying that, for the vast majority of the protest thus far, they have shown remarkable patience and restraint, and that they only moved after protestors became more aggressive.
Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier ticked off a list of alleged violations by protestors, including buzzing a police helicopter with a drone and firing arrows in the direction of officers. He also said that journalists had been harassed and security personnel assaulted.
“For months protesters have described us as an aggressive police force,” Kirchmeier said in a prepared statement, AMI Newswire reported. “We have done nothing but demonstrate patience and restraint.”
Written by J.D Heyes
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