Update: Day after police sweep the camp, tribal elders negotiate peaceful end to Backwater Bridge standoff
By Red Power Media, Staff | Oct 28, 2016
In the aftermath of Thursday’s confrontation near Cannon Ball N.D., where 142 people were arrested and three shots were fired at law enforcement officers, water protectors again occupied the Backwater Bridge and roadway throughout Friday, where the controversial Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) is being built.
A couple of hundred protesters again faced off with law enforcement officers, on Friday. But this time, the use of pepper spray and military-style Humvees was averted when elders of the Standing Rock Tribe brokered a truce on the bridge littered with burnt-out vehicles and police barricades. Protesters were persuaded to clear the bridge following negotiations between officers and tribal elders.
Omaha World-Herald reported, Miles Allard, who has allowed protesters since April to camp on land that he owns with his wife, said he intervened because of concerns that people were going to get hurt.
“I told them to back off and we’d back off,” Allard said. “Their main concern was to get people off the highway. … My main concern was prayer and nonviolence.”
“We are not going away,” says Miles Allard, a tribal elder who negotiated the peaceful stand-down between pipeline protesters and authorities on Friday.
Both sides backed off to clear a Highway 1806 bridge where the tense confrontation began Thursday.
Allard, 68, a Turtle Mountain Chippewa elder and a lifelong resident of the Standing Rock reservation, said protesters aren’t backing down but that the only way they will win is through prayer and nonviolence.
Authorities on Friday also allowed tribal officials to remove about a dozen teepees from the site of a camp
The highway bridge, which has been closed in conjunction with Highway 1806, crosses over Cantapeta Creek north of Cannonball. The bridge, on which debris burned throughout the night and into Friday morning, has been declared unsafe for anyone to cross and will remain closed until any damage to the structure is evaluated by bridge engineers. During the closure, motorists need to use alternate routes.
Meanwhile, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigations investigators were combing through the remnants of a north camp that was cleared of protesters on Thursday — treating it as a crime scene. In addition, 70 vehicles were towed from the scene.
Thursday, about 200 heavily armed police in riot gear, with military equipment, launched a midday operation to remove demonstrators from their encampment on private land.
According to press reports and social media posts, police ordered Native American water protectors and Environmental activists occupying a camp in the path of the proposed $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline to leave — or be arrested. The sheriff’s department announced it was also dismantling a roadblock set up on highway 1806.
Law enforcement demanded that the protesters leave on Wednesday but they had refused.
“Move to the south,” police said over the loudspeaker.
The protesters who prefer to be called water protectors, refused to leave the land in the pipeline’s path ― owned by the pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners. Members of the tribe say the land they were occupying is rightfully theirs and authorities were failing to respect two treaties ratified by the federal government.
A stand-off with police lasted for several hours before authorities moved closer to the camp and started to forcibly remove the water protectors.
Law enforcement used a long range acoustic device (LRAD) sonic weapon that could be heard on live streams. Riot police used batons, pepper spray, tasers and non-lethal ammo (rubber/bean bags) on the protesters who were defending the new Oceti Sakowin camp, according to Facebook videos and live streams from the site. Some campers ran from the violent response as police pursued.
One water protector was shot in the face, two teen horse riders were shot at and one horse was injured by a police projectile another horse died from police gunfire.
The protest has lingered for months, which began when Native Americans of the Standing Rock reservation claimed the pipeline threatens sacred land and local water reserves.
Determined to be the last line of defense between the pipeline and Missouri River, the water protectors stood their ground.
Protesters are burning tires, logs and other objects, sending smoke onto the roadway. A car has also been torched, journalist Jason Patinkin tweeted.
In retaliation of the police repression, they also reportedly threw rocks, logs, bottles and other debris at riot police as the tensions reached new heights.
Some prayed in circles while others yelled at advancing members of law enforcement, according to The Associated Press.
“Stand up, rise up, find your warrior spirit!” one protester chanted.
Later in the evening, protesters started two fires on the Backwater Bridge and threw Molotov cocktails at authorities, according to the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.
Morton County Sheriff deputies were assisted in the sweep of the camp and roadblocks, by the N. Dakota State Patrol, National Guard and law enforcement officers from seven States.
The Morton County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to the Associated Press that it had cleared the private land of protesters around 6:30pm EST Thursday.
Of the 141 arrests on Thursday, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department said most of the protesters faced charges for conspiracy to endanger by fire or explosion, engaging in a riot and maintaining a public nuisance. Seven people were arrested for reckless endangerment after using “sleeping dragon devices” to attach themselves to items. —
Incidents of shots fired
The Bismarck Tribune reported, shots were fired Thursday on multiple occasions. One instance came at Backwater Bridge in Morton County, where one person was injured after being shot in the hand, according to the sheriff’s department. Cecily Fong of the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services said the shooting involved a person who had been run off the road by protesters north of the main protest camp south of County Road 134 on N.D. Highway 1806.
Dallas Goldtooth with the Indigenous environmental network, said the man climbed out of the vehicle and stood out in the creek with the rifle. He said several protesters attempted to de-escalate the situation.
A near half our stand off took place. The armed driver was shot in the hand during what CBS News was told was a tussle with protesters, reports CBS News. Eventually, BIA came to the scene, disarmed the man, and his was placed under arrest.
Thompson was caught with an AR-15 at the Oceti Sakowin camp with 30 live rounds.
Social media posts reported the armed instigator wearing a mask who drove into the camp with a assault rifle, ― then run off the road by protesters ― was a hired Dakota Access pipeline security guard, named Kyle Thompson.
He then got out of the vehicle and “fired several shots from his assault rifle,” the tribe said in a statement posted to Facebook.
Documents found in the man’s Chevy Silverado pickup suggested he was a Dakota Access Pipeline security guard in a company-owned truck, the Standing Rock Sioux statement said.
The truck that Thompson was driving is insured for Thompson-Gray, LLC, Knightsbridge Risk Management in Springfield, Ohio, says, the Hispanic News Network U.S.A. Blog
A travel log also indicated that Thompson might have been accompanied by another DAPL security guard who couldn’t be located at the scene.
When he was on his way to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Police Department in Fort Yates, a person unknown to EnviroNews World News, drove the Chevy Silverado about a half mile up the road, close to where police and protectors were still colliding, after which a group of people raided the truck.
In the raid, protectors found a photo ID badge of the man [Kyle Thompson] that said “DAPL Security.” They also found insurance cards issued to Dakota Access LLC, out of Houston, Texas. After the protectors had “rifled through” the truck and taken the documents, they set it ablaze and watched it burn.
According to a spokesman from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Police Department, Thompson was transferred to the FBI around 8 p.m.
The FBI was investigating but turned the case over to the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
The Hispanic News Network U.S.A. has also reported, Thompson is a U.S. Army Veteran who served 15 months in Iraq and in 2007 he was given the name “War Eagle” by his family who are Native Americans.
In a separate incident, a woman was arrested for firing a weapon at police near Highway 1806.