APTN National News
Twelve people are in hospital and another 200 were injured after anti-pipeline demonstrators clashed with local and state police in North Dakota who used pepper spray, rubber bullets, and water cannons in freezing temperatures on hundreds of #NoDAPL supporters who call themselves water protectors.
That’s according to a release sent early Monday morning by Indigenous Rising media and statistics from Oceti Sakowin Medic team.
The Morton County Sheriff’s Department issued a statement on its Facebook page claiming the water protectors had “started a dozen fires near the bridge.” The statement said there were about 400 people at the site “attempting to breach the bridge to go north on Hwy 1806.”
But according to APTN reporters on location, the only fire on the bridge was a small bonfire used by people to stay warm. People gathered around a larger bonfire which was lit on the north bank of the Cantapeta Creek to the right of the Backwater Bridge facing the barricades. Authorities aimed a water cannon at that bonfire but it was not powerful enough to reach it.
Water protectors described a different scenario than the one issued by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department on what began Sunday’s events.
See related stories: Standing Rock
Police unleashed the water cannons after a group of about half a dozen men earlier in the evening managed to tow away the charred remains of one of two military cargo trucks left alongside the barricade erected on Oct. 27.
That barricade was erected after police and troopers from several states and counties pushed the water protectors out from a camp set up north of the Oceti Sakowin Camp.
This is the latest round of clashes between water protectors and authorities as all sides await a decision from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers on whether to grant Houston-based Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access LLC, an easement to run the pipeline under Lake Oahe, a reservoir on the Missouri River.
The Dakota Access pipeline has been built to the edge of the lake and the construction site is protected by recently erected walls. The company is allowed to drill about 60 metres down into the ground by the water, but can’t drill horizontally until the Army Corp grants the easement.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe are currently awaiting word from the Army Corps of Engineers to begin meetings to discuss why the easement shouldn’t be granted and, if granted, what conditions should be attached.
This is believed to be the last step of a review of the project which was announced in September by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama after Standing Rock failed to obtain an injunction against pipeline construction with the U.S. Federal Court.
The Army Corp of Engineers only has jurisdiction over the pipeline’s path directly adjacent to and under Lake Oahe.
Standing Rock and Cheyenne River say the oil pipeline threatens the area’s water supply.
The proposed 1,886 kilometre pipeline is slated to pump about 500,000 barrels of oil per day from the Bakken shale fields in North Dakota, through South Dakota and Iowa to Illinois.
The pipeline traverses Standing Rock’s treaty territory established in the 1869 Treaty of Fort Laramie.