CANNON BALL, N.D. (AP) — Law enforcement and protesters are in a new confrontation on the site of the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota. The Morton County Sheriff’s Office estimated 400 protesters were on a bridge trying to go north on state Highway 1806 late Sunday evening. Law enforcement had formed a line to prevent their movement. At least one person had been arrested.
Dallas Goldtooth with the Indigenous Environmental Network says protesters want to remove burned-out vehicles on the bridge so officers “can see us face to face, who we are, as peaceful water protectors.”
Authorities say the protesters aren’t peaceful. Morton County Sheriff’s spokesman Rob Keller says “criminal agitators” assaulted officers with rocks and burning logs, and one officer suffered a head injury.
Goldtooth says dozens of protesters were injured when officers employed tear gas and rubber bullets and sprayed water on them. He says at least 17 protesters were taken to hospitals, some with hypothermia.
Authorities are defending their use of water hoses against the protesters during a skirmish in below-freezing weather.
Morton County Sheriff’s spokesman Rob Keller says the water hoses were used to put out fires set by protesters and to keep protesters away from law officers during a violent clash that was “rapidly unfolding.”
The conflict between protesters and officers happened late Sunday and early Monday on a long-blocked bridge on state Highway 1806, near a camp where demonstrators have gathered for months.