By Blair Emerson, The Bismarck Tribune, December 28, 2016
Police arrested five Dakota Access Pipeline protesters for criminal trespass Tuesday.
The arrests were made around 1 p.m. after 11 protesters crossed the frozen Cannonball River to Turtle Island, a hill on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land that the tribe considers sacred. Police say they warned the protesters not to cross and arrested the five who disobeyed.
Joye Braun, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, said she heard from people at the Oceti Sakowin camp that they had gone to Turtle Island to pray. Braun said she was not at the camp that day as she has been traveling back and forth between there and her home in Eagle Butte, S.D.
Protesters have been encamped there for months in opposition to the 1,172-mile crude oil pipeline crossing the Missouri River just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
An hour after the arrests, police said another group of about 20 protesters and two vehicles moved onto Backwater Bridge, which has been closed since October after numerous clashes between law enforcement and police. It is blocked with razor wire and concrete barriers.
Law enforcement pulled back from guarding the bridge earlier this month after reaching an agreement with protest organizers, who said they would stay off the bridge while it was being inspected for fire damage caused during an October clash between police and protesters. The inspection took place last week.
The sheriff’s department said officers observed protesters “tampering with the wire barricade” and crossing to the north side of the bridge. Protesters allegedly also broke the lenses of a light tower on the bridge.