Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein is facing criminal charges for vandalizing a bulldozer in North Dakota during an oil pipeline protest, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
Stein was part of a group of 150 to 200 protesters at the construction site of the North Dakota Access Pipeline, a multi-million dollar project promising to shuttle oil from North Dakota to the Gulf of Mexico. Two of the protesters tethered themselves to bulldozers, while others reportedly vandalized construction equipment.
Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said his office is “working up the information through the state’s attorney’s office to pursue charges (against Stein).” The charges could include trespassing and vandalism.
“The incident is actually still ongoing as we speak,” Kirchmeier said Tuesday afternoon. “Since we did not respond immediately to that location because of the situation … we have information that they can just release themselves and it’s no big deal.”
Law enforcement officials monitored the situation from afar, but did nothing to intervene, primarily because they believed the situation was too volatile.
“At this point … I don’t believe that we need to go in there and have physical altercations with the protesters,” he said.
The incident took place Tuesday morning as protests continue to grow more violent.
Protest of the nearly $4 million dollar oil pipeline turned violent Saturday when members of a Native American tribe Standing Rock Sioux and private security forces clashed as construction crews began work on the project in Morton County, N.D.
Morton County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Donnell Preskey told reporters four security guards not affiliated with law enforcement and two guard dogs were injured.
One of the security officers was taken to a hospital, while the two guard dogs were taken to veterinary clinic, Preskey said. She said there weren’t any reports of protesters being injured.
Tribe spokesman Steve Sitting Bear disagreed, telling reporters that security dogs bit six protesters and a young child. At least 30 people were pepper-sprayed during the altercation, he added.
Stein is currently polling at 2 percent in North Dakota. The Green Party candidate is also polling neck and neck with Harambe, a gorilla shot in May after a child fell into his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo, in a recent Texas Public Policy Poll released in August.
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