Less than a week after North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple activated the North Dakota National Guard to reinforce security at a construction site for the Dakota Access oil pipeline, police in riot gear arrived on the scene of a #NoDAPL protest Tuesday and arrested 20 people, according to independent news outlet Unicorn Riot.
Among those arrested were protesters, also known as “water protectors,” along with medics and two journalists from Unicorn Riot.
The Standing Rock, Rosebud and Lower Brule Lakota tribes have been using civil disobedience to fight off the $3.78 billion pipeline since it was approved by the U.S. Senate in January. In addition to infringing on sacred burial grounds, the pipeline would run beneath part of the Missouri River, one of the largest sources of groundwater in the world. The river is the major source of natural water for the Standing Rock tribe, which lives close to the proposed pipeline.
The cause has been taken up by climate activists including former presidential candidate Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has been very vocal about it.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) September 12, 2016
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 13, 2016
On Friday the federal government decided to halt construction on a 40-mile section of the pipeline, the area 20 miles east and west of Lake Oahe. This did not stop all construction on the pipeline, however, and the protests against that work have continued.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) September 13, 2016
Protesters described as “white allies” standing in solidarity with the Standing Rock tribe showed up and locked themselves to equipment to prevent work from continuing, in what is known as a “lockdown.”
Police in riot gear showed up and threatened the protesters with arrest for trespassing. When the protesters didn’t leave, police made the 20 arrests.
“So they’re pointing at everyone with cameras, saying, ‘He’s going, she’s going’ … so it seems like they’re targeting media for arrest. We might be getting arrested here,” one journalist noted shortly before being arrested.
There is no word yet on whether any of the protesters have been released.