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Pipeline opponents march on Mandan in show of support for jailed protester

MANDAN - More than 100 opponents of the Dakota Access oil pipeline rallied Tuesday in downtown Mandan in support of a woman arrested during an earlier protest, shutting down two city streets just hours after authorities announced a task force is ...

More than 100 people gather outside the Morton County Law Enforcement Center, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016, in a show of support for Olowan Martinez, who was arrested for criminal trespass during demonstrations opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline. She is being held on an outstanding warrant in Nebraska. Photo by Mike Nowatzki / Forum News Service
More than 100 people gather outside the Morton County Law Enforcement Center, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016, in a show of support for Olowan Martinez, who was arrested for criminal trespass during demonstrations opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline. She is being held on an outstanding warrant in Nebraska. Photo by Mike Nowatzki / Forum News Service

MANDAN – More than 100 opponents of the Dakota Access oil pipeline rallied Tuesday in downtown Mandan in support of a woman arrested during an earlier protest, shutting down two city streets just hours after authorities announced a task force is investigating a violent clash Sept. 3 between protesters and pipeline security.

About 50 law enforcement officers, many in riot gear, formed a blockade in front of the Morton County law enforcement center and later Mandan City Hall when protesters marched there a block away. No arrests had been made when protesters began to disperse at about 4:30 p.m.

Cody Hall, a spokesman for the Red Warrior Camp, which is demonstrating against the pipeline, said the self-described “water protectors” were there to support Olowan Martinez, 42, of South Dakota, who is being held at the Morton County Jail.

Martinez was arrested on criminal trespass charges Sept. 13 for being on private property during a demonstration at a Dakota Access Pipeline worksite. She has posted bond on the North Dakota charge but was still being held on an outstanding warrant from Nebraska, where she is charged with felony terroristic threats, theft and two counts of criminal mischief.

The Morton County Sheriff's Department said Martinez waived her extradition to Nebraska on Sept. 14, and authorities from that state have 10 days to take her into custody. The department said 69 people have been arrested for “illegal protest activities” related to the pipeline, and Martinez is the last one in custody.

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“We’re here to show support for our sister,” Hall said.

“She didn’t hurt nobody,” said Ticki Smith of Yuma, Ariz., a member of the Kwatsan Nation and one of thousands camping near the original pipeline protest site about 35 miles south of Mandan.

Authorities warned Smith and others to stay off the grass at the law enforcement center and later ordered protesters off the sidewalk at City Hall to make way for parents bringing their children to the gymnastics facility upstairs.

Smith said the pipeline opponents, who fear the pipeline will leak and contaminate the Missouri River and drinking water for millions downstream, weren’t there just to make a statement.

“We’re actually making a stand,” he said.

Mandan Police Chief Jason Ziegler said authorities had some advance notice of the protest through intelligence gathered at the traffic checkpoint on Highway 1806 south of Mandan. It was the first full-scale protest in Mandan since protests began last month, he said.

“Our goal was to make this peaceful, and as long as they followed the laws and rules, we had no problems,” he said.

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As director of digital content development for Forum Communications, Wagner oversees digital training tools for newsrooms, audience engagement and niche content areas.
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