Pipeline Protest Deadline Brings Fires, Explosions, Injuries and Arrests
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline in Morton County, North Dakota
MORTON COUNTY, N.D. — A dramatic chain of events unfolded in Morton County at the site of the Dakota Access oil pipeline.
There were ceremonial fires, explosions, injuries and arrests.
All as the 2 p.m. Wednesday deadline for protesters to clear out of the main camp came and went.
Protesters begin ceremonial burning of some of their living structures ahead of the closure of the camp at about 8:30 a.m.
By the end of the day, 20 structures were burned to the ground, a vehicle was set on fire and there were two explosions injuring a 7-year-old boy and a 17 year-old girl.
They were taken by Standing Rock ambulance to a Bismarck hospital for treatment of burns.
“I understand she’s being airlifted to Minneapolis right now after being transported by Standing Rock ambulance here,” said Gov. Doug Burgum.
Cleanup efforts at the camp are on hold after negotiations broke down between authorities and camp leaders by 9:50 a.m.
“There were some negotiations regarding cleanup and what’s going to be offered is an amnesty bus to come and allow people to freely leave,” said Lt. Tom Iverson of the North Dakota State Patrol. “It would be great if everybody got on that bus. You get a free ride out of here, a bus ticket, a wellness check.”
About 150 protesters marching arm-in-arm move out of the protest camp while singing and playing drums at about 1:50 p.m.
They headed down Highway 1806.
Several carry signs. One man carried an American flag hung upside down.
Another large group of protesters exchange hugs and goodbyes after marching out of the camp at about 2 p.m.
“They have more agents, federal agents,” said Tribal member Kaooplus Enimkla. “They have a bigger force this time than we’ve probably ever seen before.”
Police start arresting protesters left behind at about 4:20 p.m.
One man complained of hip pain resulting from his arrest, but the extent of his injury isn’t clear.
Officials make nine arrests.
Other people in the group left the area following the arrests and authorities started to move back while about 50 people remained at the site.
“Tribal council unanimously voted to ask protesters to leave so the area can be cleaned up so that lives are protected,” said Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota. “This is a life-safety issue.”
The Army Corps of Engineers ordered the camp closed, citing the potential for spring flooding.
One protester said he was planning to move to a nearby camp being set up on land leased by the Cheyenne River Sioux to continue the fight against the pipeline.
To get protesters to leave, authorities offered a hotel voucher and bus ticket to any city in the U.S.