Standing Rock protesters attempted to clear large burned trucks off a bridge north of the Oceti Sakowin camp Sunday night. The bridge was incapacitated during illegal actions to protest the Dakota Access pipeline on Oct. 27, when 140 protesters and a journalist were arrested.
During that protest action, police used a bullhorn to repeatedly tell protesters that the reason they were marching against protesters was to clear the road, which was an illegal blockade of North Dakota State Highway 1806.
Law enforcement placed the trucks on the bridge during the stand off to prevent protesters moving up before police could put in the cement the next morning, like how NYPD uses trucks full of sand. Protesters then set fire to the trucks in retaliation and to stop police from marching on the south camp.
Later that week, police officials and Native Indian leaders met together with a mediator, hired by Chief Archambault, to agree to clear the bridge. The deal was made. As soon as a state investigator could vouch for the safety of the bridge, it would be cleared so traffic could once again pass through.
Weeks later, the bridge has still not been cleared. Officers have given several excuses, including that it is because engineers have not been able to access the bridge to ascertain its structural integrity out of fear of their safety from protesters.
Sunday night, police fired rubber bullets and fire hoses as protesters, tired of the militarized police tactics and concrete blockades, attempted to move the trucks to expedite the barricade clearance for police.
Protesters were drenched with water, despite the 24-degree weather. Police did not comment about the risk of hypothermia.
“The fire hose is 50 feet from them,” Lieutenant Tom Iverson of the North Dakota State Highway Patrol texted Wanderer News during the action. “There comes another boulder! These people are violent.”
Iverson justified the police actions and said that protesters were “trying to breach the line to gain access to the north” which “is unacceptable.”
Protesters said they only wished to remove the trucks for the road, but have been known to be aggressive and allegedly use illegal protest methods against police including: Red Dawn Fallis who shot at officers, the use of Molotov cocktails, the burning of cars and bridges, and the throwing of rocks.
Police have said that protesters shot bows and arrows as well, but no evidence has ever been provided of that.
“This is a pure riot, plain and simple,” Iverson said. “I have dodges so many boulders so far.”
The action is expected to continue throughout the night.