MORTON COUNTY, N.D., Oct. 28 (UPI) — Tensions between activists and law enforcement continued to rise in North Dakota on Thursday, as officials try to clear out the demonstrators on private land where a controversial pipeline is being built.
Police in riot gear again started arresting protesters on Thursday near the pipeline in Morton County.
Officers also shot beanbag rounds at uncooperative demonstrators as choppers flew overhead, news reports said.
Authorities blocked any exit by obstructing the highway with cars and burning tires — giving the scene a war zone-like appearance.
“We do not want anybody to get hurt, we do not want anybody to get hit,” police could be heard saying over a loudspeaker.
Clashes between the protesters and police have been heating up for days. Last weekend, officers subdued the advocates with pepper spray because they supposedly trespassed onto private property. More than 120 were arrested.
Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to step in and control what they say is a growing militarization of law enforcement officers near the pipeline.
Demonstrators, though, say they aren’t trespassing — citing an 1851 treaty that says the land belongs to the tribe.
Tents and teepees were erected at the site this week, as the tribe and supporters opposed the planned 1,100-mile $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline.
Police expect additional protests, and possibly more arrests, in the coming days.