Peaceful demonstrations turned violent Saturday when protesters clashed with construction workers regarding a proposed North Dakota pipeline. This was the latest escalation in an ongoing fight between workers involved in the creation of the pipeline and Native American tribes.
Four private security guards and police dogs were injured when they were confronted by hundreds of protesters outside of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. Tribal spokesman Sitting Bear reported that six protesters—including one child—had been bitten by security dogs. Sitting Bear also indicated that at least thirty protesters had been pepper-sprayed during the encounter. However, according to local law enforcement, no injuries of protesters had been reported, and no arrests were made.
Law enforcement stated that they were not at the site of the protests when the altercation took place. When law enforcement arrived on scene, the protesters dispersed before anyone was arrested.
One day before the altercation, the tribe had filed papers claiming that the proposed pipeline crossed over several locations that held cultural and historical significance to the tribe, including American Indian burial grounds.
According to NBC News, “The tribe is challenging the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to grant permits for Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access pipeline, which crosses the Dakotas and Iowa to Illinois, including near the reservation in southern North Dakota.” NBC went on to report that “a federal judge will rule before Sept. 9 whether construction can be halted on the Dakota Access pipeline.”
The tribes are accusing the construction companies of destroying Native American Indian burial and cultural sites on private land in southern North Dakota. Concern has also been raised about the impact on local water sources, including possible contamination that could affect millions, not just tribal members.