Protesters, police engaged in standoff at creek between camp and pipeline construction area
BISMARCK – Law enforcement officers and Dakota Access Pipeline protesters are engaged in a standoff Wednesday, Nov. 2, on the banks of a creek between the main protest camp and pipeline construction area.
Morton County spokeswoman Donnell Preskey said protesters are trying to gain access to private property known as the Cannonball Ranch that was recently purchased by the pipeline company. Protesters had tried to build a wooden pedestrian bridge across the Cantapeta Creek, but law enforcement used a boat to pull the bridge apart.
Protesters then swam and used boats to get across the creek, Preskey said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave the county orders to remove the makeshift bridge and has given orders to arrest for criminal trespass any protesters who cross the creek onto the Corps land on the north side of the creek, Preskey said. Law enforcement also is telling protesters that anyone who crosses the river and enters Corps or private property will be arrested, she said.
Preskey said the standoff is happening where the creek empties into the Cannonball River, east of the Backwater Bridge on Highway 1806 that has been closed since last Thursday. Protesters torched vehicles on and next to the bridge that day after hundreds of law enforcement officers evicted them from roadblocks they’d set up on the highway and a camp directly in the pipeline route, leading to more than 140 arrests.
Citing free speech rights, the Corps has been allowing hundreds and sometimes thousands of Native Americans and other pipeline protesters to camp on Corps land south of the creek along the nearby Cannonball River since Aug. 10.