Police and National Guard troops arrested more than 140 water protectors near a Dakota Access Pipeline construction site in Cannon Ball, N.D., on Thursday.
The Morton County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement that authorities had arrested 141 protesters by midnight local time after a more than six-hour standoff, NBC News reports.
As previously reported on The Root, more than 100 militarized police in riot gear showed up at a #NoDAPL resistance camp Thursday accompanied by multiple mine-resistant ambush-protected military vehicles, a sound cannon, an armored truck and a bulldozer. Water protectors at the scene reported that the police presence also included multiple snipers. The officers lined up across North Dakota Highway 1806.
The police were evicting the camp in order to clear the way for construction on the 1,200-mile pipeline to continue. The camp is on the same sacred burial site where unlicensed Dakota Access security guards unleashed dogs and pepper spray against Native American water protectors Sept. 3.
The Standing Rock Sioux have sued to stop construction of the pipeline, which they say will destroy sacred sites and threaten their water supply as it crosses under the Missouri River.
The sheriff’s department told NBC News that at least seven protesters had physically latched themselves to vehicles and concrete. Police said that some protesters threw rocks and improvised fire bombs as law enforcement closed in.
The protesters built encampments on private land, and authorities said that left them no choice but to intervene.
“We’re trying to avoid confrontation, but they drew the line in the sand today,” Cass County Sheriff Paul D. Laney told reporters Thursday.
David Archambault, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, criticized the militarized response to the camp. On Friday he told NBC News that the tribe was working through diplomatic channels at the United Nations; it has requested that U.N. peacekeepers be deployed to Cannon Ball to serve as witnesses to the actions of local law enforcement.
“We are reaching out to the U.N. because the state government of North Dakota has abandoned us, and the federal government in Washington, D.C., has refused to recognize signed land treaties with our tribe,” Archambault said.
As previously reported on The Root, Archambault addressed the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva last month and outlined the tribe’s issues with the pipeline. At that meeting, Archambault formally invited United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz to visit the reservation and “witness for yourself the urgent situation and threats we are facing so that you are able to make informed recommendations to the United States about how to resolve this situation in a way that respects our rights as indigenous peoples.”
As of Thursday, Highway 1806 remains closed between Fort Rice and Cannon Ball. According to a sheriff’s statement, various counties, cities, state agencies and out-of-town law enforcement were assisting the Morton County Sheriff’s Department.
Read more at NBC News.