North Dakota pipeline protest prompts more than 20 arrests


More than 80 people protesting the Dakota Access pipeline were arrested Saturday during a demonstration that gathered about 300 people at a construction site in North Dakota and prompted law enforcement officers to use pepper spray.

Police received a call at about 5:20 a.m. that protesters were on a construction site south of Mandan, far off of Highway 1806 in a field, according to Donnell Preskey, a spokeswoman for the Morton County Sheriff's Department.

The sheriff's office said four people who attached themselves to a sport utility vehicle parked on private property near construction equipment were among those arrested Saturday. Police removed the men from the SUV before arresting them.

Some were pepper sprayed by law enforcement.

Work on the four-state pipeline whose construction has sparked protests in North Dakota is almost finished in South Dakota.

The demonstration closed a section of a local highway, but it was reopened on Saturday afternoon.

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Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier says Saturday's incident shows that "this protest is not peaceful or lawful". The judge did not find probable cause to justify the charges filed on Friday, October 14, by State's Attorney Ladd R. Erickson, which were presented after Erickson had withdrawn an earlier charge against Goodman of criminal trespass. The Democracy Now reporter was covering the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters in September and was initially charged with trespassing.

"There's a very large group of protesters (who) walked from Highway 1806 to the site", Preskey said.

Protesters that have been camping in Morton County are concerned over potential impacts to the Missouri River, where a crossing under the riverbed less than a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation boundary is planned.

Protests have drawn thousands of people to the area where Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners is trying to finish building the 1,200-mile pipeline.

Supporters say it would provide a safer and more cost-effective way to transport Bakken shale to the U.S. Gulf than by road or rail.