February 22, 2017 10:46 am
Updated: February 23, 2017 10:13 am

Several arrested as Standing Rock activists defy deadlines for Dakota Access pipeline protest

ABOVE: Standing Rock protesters burn belongings ahead of deadline to clear camp


Several dozen demonstrators, the last holdouts from a mass protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline, faced off against riot police on Wednesday as they defied a deadline to end their months-long occupation of an encampment on federal land.

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Police arrested a handful of protesters who confronted them with taunts late in the day outside the camp entrance, then retreated as tensions mounted in the standoff, about 40 miles south of Bismarck, the state capital. State officials said about 10 arrests were made throughout the day.

President Donald Trump has pushed for the completion of the pipeline since he took office last month, signing an executive order that reversed an Obama administration decision and cleared the way for the $3.8 billion project to proceed.

Protesters, mostly Native Americans and environmental activists, have spent months rallying against plans to route the pipeline beneath a lake near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, saying it poses a threat to water resources and sacred tribal sites.

READ MORE: Donald Trump signs orders approving Keystone XL, Dakota pipelines

Republican Governor Doug Burgum and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had set a 2 p.m. CST (2000 GMT) deadline for protesters to leave the Oceti Sakowin camp, located on Army Corps land in Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

As freezing rain and snow fell, some demonstrators ceremonially burned tents and other structures at the camp in what they said was a tradition before leaving a dwelling place. Others vowed to stay put.

State officials said protesters had set about 20 fires, and that two youngsters – a 7-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl – were taken to a Bismarck hospital for burns after two explosions occurred.

WATCH: At least nine arrested following showdown between police and DAPL protesters

At least three dozen protesters could be seen gathering near the camp entrance as the deadline passed. About 20 police vehicles waited up the road and a few dozen protesters remained in other parts of the camp, a Reuters witness said.

“I feel as though now is the time to stand our ground,” said Alethea Phillips, 17, a demonstrator from Michigan who has spent three months at the camp.

Chase Iron Eyes, a Standing Rock Sioux member, said the arrest of protesters would not dampen their determination.

“You can’t arrest a movement. You can’t arrest a spiritual revolution,” he said in a video broadcast.

Protesters and law enforcement have clashed multiple times, and hundreds of people have been arrested since demonstrations at the encampment began in August.

READ MORE: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe files legal challenge against North Dakota pipeline

The site has become a major focal point for U.S. environmental activism and Native Americans expressing indigenous rights, with some 5,000 to 10,000 protesters inhabiting the camp at the height of the movement in early December.

Most have drifted since away, as tribal leaders called for a voluntary evacuation of the camp during the harsh winter while they challenged pipeline plans in court. Roughly 300 demonstrators had remained until this week.

Law enforcement officials urged people to leave the camp ahead of the deadline, citing hazards posed by spring floods.

State authorities agreed to a request by camp leaders that only Native American cleanup crews be used. One activist, HolyElk Lafferty, said she had asked that cleanup not begin until after the camp was cleared.

“It would raise the alarm and panic and not promote a peaceful process today,” Lafferty said.

Authorities set up a travel assistance center to provide departing protesters with food, water and health check-ups, as well as a voucher for one night’s accommodation at a Bismarck hotel and a bus ticket home.

A judge denied a request earlier this month by two tribes seeking to halt pipeline construction. The pipeline will be complete and ready for oil between March 6 and April 1, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

Adam Frisk February 22, 201711:47 am

Adam Frisk February 22, 201711:47 am

Adam Frisk February 22, 201711:48 am

Adam Frisk February 22, 201711:48 am
Standing Rock protesters burn belongings ahead of deadline to clear camp
Adam Frisk February 22, 201711:51 am

Adam Frisk February 22, 201711:51 am

Adam Frisk February 22, 201712:05 pm

Adam Frisk February 22, 201712:32 pm

People push belongings up a hill at the Dakota Access pipeline main protest camp in southern North Dakota near Cannon Ball, N.D., on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Blake Nicholson)

Adam Frisk February 22, 20171:19 pm

Adam Frisk February 22, 20171:19 pm

Adam Frisk February 22, 20172:22 pm
About 20 people say they aren’t leaving the Dakota Access pipeline protest camp and are willing to get arrested.
Charles Whalen, of Mille Lacs, Minnesota, says the group plans to offer “passive resistance” should law enforcement choose to enforce a 2 p.m. departure deadline set by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Whalen says the group is not going to do “anything negative.”
Whalen, who is of Hunkpapa and Oglala descent, says he’s encouraged by the protest effort and believes it will open discussions on treaty rights.
Another camper, Matthew Bishop, of Ketchikan, Alaska, was tying down his possessions on the top of his car and preparing to move to a new camp in the area. He says protesters plan to regroup and “see what we can do.” (AP)
Adam Frisk February 22, 20172:24 pm
About 150 protesters are marching arm-in-arm out of the protest camp while singing and playing drums.
They leave behind the smouldering remains of structures that were burned as part of a ceremony.
The campers were headed down a highway near the camp, but it’s unclear where they’re going.
Several of the marchers carried signs. One man carried an American flag hung upside down. (AP)
Adam Frisk February 22, 20172:27 pm

A couple embrace as opponents of the Dakota Access pipeline leave their main protest camp Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, near Cannon Ball, N.D. (AP Photo/James MacPherson)

rjoseph1 February 22, 20175:26 pm
Authorities in North Dakota say they have been negotiating with
the last people left at an encampment set up to protest the Dakota
Access pipeline over how to carry out ceremonial arrests.
The Army Corps of Engineers had set a 2 p.m. deadline to close
the camp near a Missouri River reservoir after it was the centre of
pipeline protests for months.
Highway Patrol Lt. Tom Iverson says authorities didn’t plan to
negotiate after 4 p.m. But he said authorities aren’t necessarily
going to go in after that time to make arrests.
Most of the protesters walked out of camp earlier Wednesday, but
those remaining put barbed wire across a camp entrance.

-Associated Press

© 2017 Thomson Reuters

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