Dakota Access Pipeline opponents are hunkering down for another round of protests and possible violent skirmishes with private security teams hired by the company behind the pipeline.
Hundreds of protesters arrived this weekend at ramshackle campsites along the route of the North Dakota pipeline. Protests along the DAPL route have increased in recent days leading up to President Donald Trump’s inauguration — demonstrations at the line on Jan. 19 led to 21 arrests.
“There’s a lot coming down for the camp these next few days,” said Chase IronEyes, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, the American Indian tribe opposed to the multi-state pipeline. “This is a call out for self-sufficient, able-bodied, mobile protectors to come join the front line.”
Standing Rock and and environmentalists believe the line’s construction would trample on tribal lands and potentially poison waterways, including rivers such as the Missouri River and Lake Oahe.
Many of those still remain at the camp despite the tribe imploring them to leave areas near its reservation. Standing Rock told protesters the Obama administration’s December decision to reject the line makes the campsites unnecessary at this point.
But DAPL opponents are feeling the pressure as reports show Trump will sign executive orders Tuesday approving both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, both of which were blocked by the Obama administration.
The ad-mixture of opponent angst, Trump’s executive order, and private security forces hired by Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline, could add a layer of uncertainty and danger to the project’s construction.
“We really just try to stop [protesters] from disrupting work,” said James Reese, the chief executive of TigerSwan, the private security firm hired by ETP. “This is the new normal.”
More than 600 protesters have been arrested since August 10, mostly for trespassing and other skirmishes.
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