Female burned in pipeline protest camp fire in North Dakota

BISMARCK, N.D.-Authorities say one person has been burned in fires set by protesters as a longstanding encampment near the Dakota Access oil pipeline is shut down in North Dakota.

Cecily Fong, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Emergency Services, says the extent of the unidentified female’s injuries weren’t known. Fong said an ambulance was being sent to the encampment.

Most of the 200 to 300 protesters who remained at the encampment walked out around 1 p.m. That was about an hour ahead of a deadline set by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the camp to close ahead of a spring flooding threat.

It wasn’t known where the protesters were headed, but authorities had several buses ready to carry them to Bismarck for food, lodging and help getting home. Some protesters have vowed to camp elsewhere on private land.

Earlier about 150 protesters are marching arm-in-arm out of the Dakota Access pipeline protest camp while singing and playing drums.

Dakota Access pipeline opponents burn structures in their main protest camp in southern North Dakota near Cannon Ball, N.D., on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, as authorities prepare to shut down the camp in advance of spring flooding season. (AP Photos/James MacPherson)

They leave behind the smouldering remains of structures that were burned as part of a ceremony.

Those left in camp milled about peacefully Wednesday, many in prayer. At least four wooden structures were being burned in what protesters say is part of the ceremony of leaving.

The campers were headed down a highway near the camp, but it’s unclear where they’re going. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers set a deadline of 2 p.m. Wednesday for protesters to clear the area.

Several of the marchers carried signs. One man carried an American flag hung upside down.

About 20 people say they aren’t leaving the Dakota Access pipeline protest camp and are willing to get arrested.

Fifty-year-old Charles Whalen, of Mille Lacs, Minnesota, says the group plans to offer “passive resistance” should law enforcement choose to enforce a 2 p.m. Wednesday departure deadline set by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Whalen says the group is not going to do “anything negative.”

Whalen, who is of Hunkpapa and Oglala descent, says he’s encouraged by the protest effort and believes it will open discussions on treaty rights.

Another camper, Matthew Bishop, of Ketchikan, Alaska, was tying down his possessions on the top of his car and preparing to move to a new camp in the area. He says protesters plan to regroup and “see what we can do.”

Negotiations broke down between authorities and camp leaders Tuesday. Crews have been working to tidy up the camp since January.

Contractors were brought in last week to boost those efforts because authorities feared the onset of spring flooding at the camp near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

North Dakota Highway Patrol Lt. Tom Iverson says the delay Wednesday is unfortunate since time is running out.

Camp wellness director Johnny Aseron says it’s too muddy for trucks and other heavy equipment following winter rain and snow.

Camp officials also took issue with plans by authorities to have armed police escort the equipment into the camp.

The Army Corps of Engineers  ordered the camp closed at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

 

Those left in camp milled about peacefully Wednesday, many in prayer. At least four wooden structures were being burned in what protesters say is part of the ceremony of leaving.

Nestor Silva, of California, says he is planning to move to a nearby camp being set up on land leased by the Cheyenne River Sioux.

Law enforcement say they expect to make some arrests, but Silva says he doesn’t expect any trouble.

Authorities in North Dakota  offered assistance and services to Dakota Access pipeline protesters as they close a longstanding encampment near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

North Dakota state officials have set up a travel assistance centre. They’re offering personal kits, water and snacks, health assessments, bus fare for protesters to travel home, and food and hotel vouchers.

 

Protest leader Phyllis Young says many will just go to new camps on private land.

Add Your Voice

Is there more to this story? We'd like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Contribute your voice on our contribute page.