Bismarck Tribune | Oct 23, 2016
Cannon Ball, N.D.— A group of pipeline protesters moved their camp to Cannonball Ranch, an area directly on the pipeline route, which protesters say is treaty land, but was recently purchased by Dakota Access.
“Water protectors took back unceded territory affirmed in the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie as sovereign land under the control of the Oceti Sakowin, erecting a front line camp of several structures and teepees on Dakota Access property,” according to a press release from several protest groups, including the Red Warrior Camp and the Camp of Sacred Stones.
“The Oceti Sakowin has enacted eminent domain on DAPL lands,” said Mekasi Camp-Horinek, a camp coordinator, in a statement. “We will be occupying this land and staying here until the pipeline is permanently stopped.”
Law enforcement immediately condemned the move as illegal.
“Individuals trespassing on private property can’t claim eminent domain to justify their criminal actions,” said Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier in a statement.
During the move on Sunday, protesters set up blockades on Highway 1806 and on County Road 134 directly to the west, according to the protesters’ statement. This led to authorities closing Highway 1806 for several hours in the afternoon, during which time drivers were rerouted along Highway 6.
According to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, protesters constructed the barrier north of the camps from hay bales, rocks, tree stumps and logs around 2 p.m. Photos shared on the Red Warrior Camp Facebook page show the block had signs with slogans, such as “NO DAPL” and “Defend the Sacred.”
The roadblock north of the camp on Highway 1806 was removed after negotiations with law enforcement, who told protesters they would be liable if an emergency would occur and first responders could not get through, according to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department. As of 5:30 p.m. the block on County Road 134 remained in place.
Around 11 a.m., officers used less-than-lethal force to shoot down a drone that was allegedly endangering a helicopter flying above the protests, according to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department.
Kirchmeier said he was pleased that “common sense prevailed” when protesters took down the block on Highway 1806, but criticized the day’s events, calling them “outright unlawful.”
”From halting traffic with their own roadblocks, trespassing on private property and endangering lives with illegal drones, these are the tactics of out-of-state agitators who have an agenda of causing fear, terror, and economic devastation,” he said in a statement.
Kellie Berns, an opponent of the four-state, $3.8 billion oil pipeline, said protesters have set up about 15 teepees and 50 tents at the new camp, on the recommendation of elders and group leaders. Women and children are being encouraged to remain at the main Oceti Sakowin camp.
“They’re asking as many people as they can to move,” Berns said.
The relocation comes a week after the Standing Rock Tribal Council voted 8-5 to set aside land on the reservation for a winter camp. The Forum News Service reported that not everyone was inclined to move there.
The site of this new camp is on Cannonball Ranch, which Dakota Access purchased from a local landowner last month. Part of the ranch was the site of a clash between protesters and private security guards with dogs. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has said the land contains sacred burial sites. The new camp is across the road from where the clash took place, according to the protest groups. It is directly behind where a row of tents has been staged for the past two months.
An email sent to a Dakota Access spokesperson was not immediately returned on Sunday evening. A phone message left for Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault was not immediately returned either.
Authorities used an ATV to arrest one person for criminal trespass and fleeing on Sunday, according to the sheriff’s department.
A total of 126 people were arrested during major demonstrations on Saturday, as officers used pepper spray to control a group of protesters, according to the sheriff’s department. This is an updated figure from the 83 reported Saturday. Charges include reckless endangerment, criminal trespass, engaging in a riot, assault on a peace officer and resisting arrest.
Protesters were brought to jails throughout the state. At least two were legal observers, according to Bruce Ellison, an attorney for the protesters. He said some people have bonded out, but it is not clear if everyone has.