Dakota Access: Standing Rock Chairman Says Army Corps to Close Camp Access | NECN
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Dakota Access: Standing Rock Chairman Says Army Corps to Close Camp Access

For months, opponents of the four-state, $3.8 billion pipeline have been camping in the area to protest the pipeline

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    FILE - In this Sept. 9, 2016 file photo, More than a thousand people gather at an encampment near North Dakota's Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

    The chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe said Friday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to close the area where people have been camping for months to protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline. 

    Dave Archambault said in a statement that he received a letter from the Corps, dated Friday, which says all lands north of the Cannonball River will be closed Dec. 5. 

    "The letter states that the lands will be closed to public access for safety concerns," Archambault said. 

    Representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers didn't immediately return messages seeking comment and verification of the letter. 

    Archambault said the land to be closed includes the Oceti Sakowin camp, a sprawling encampment on Army Corps land about 50 miles south of Bismarck. For months, opponents of the four-state, $3.8 billion pipeline have been camping in the area to protest the pipeline. 

    The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes are fighting the project because they fear it will harm drinking water and cultural sites. Pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners disputes that and says the 1,200-mile pipeline through the Dakotas, Iowa and Illinois will be safe. 

    The pipeline is nearly complete outside of a stretch beneath a Missouri River reservoir in southern North Dakota, just to the north of the Standing Rock reservation. 

    Archambault said the letter indicates the Corps will set up a free speech zone south of the Cannonball River. 

    Visitors to Wildlife Preserve Catch Glimpse of Massive Gator

    [NATL] Visitors to Wildlife Preserve Catch Glimpse of Massive Gator
    A massive alligator was recorded on video Sunday at a wildlife preserve in Polk County, Florida. Almost prehistoric in appearance, the gator is known well by people who frequent the preserve, but the social media explosion brought out plenty of new viewers on Monday. "It's awesome," exclaimed Jackson McMillan. That is until he was asked if he wanted to get any closer, to which he replied, "I'm fine." (Published Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017)

    "Our Tribe is deeply disappointed in this decision by the United States, but our resolve to protect our water is stronger than ever," he said. He's asking pipeline opponents to continue to fight the pipeline's permitting process. 

    Meanwhile, the leader of the Cheyenne River Sioux in South Dakota called for pipeline opponents to boycott businesses in North Dakota's capital, a move Bismarck's city administrator says is uncalled for and disappointing. 

    The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Council voted in September to not spend money in Bismarck and neighboring Mandan, and Chairman Harold Frazier at the time called on all tribal members to join the effort. Earlier this week, he sought to broaden the boycott to make a statement against what he calls "heavy-handed, illegal and violent oppression" of people who have protested against the pipeline for months. 

    Bismarck City Administrator Keith Hunke said Friday the boycott is disappointing given that the city's businesses aren't involved in the dispute. 

    Crowd Sings 'We Shall Overcome' at MLK Memorial

    [NATL-DC] Crowd Sings 'We Shall Overcome' at MLK Memorial
    Thousands of people across the country paid homage Monday to Martin Luther King Jr. At a wreath-laying ceremony at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the crowd sang "We Shall Overcome" after walking the wreath to an area in front of the statue. (Published Monday, Jan. 16, 2017)

    "They really don't have any part in any of the concerns expressed by the Standing Rock Sioux Nation," Hunke said, adding that no businesses have reported an impact from boycotts. 

    Hunke said increasingly frequent protest activity in the Bismarck-Mandan area is "an inconvenience" but hasn't cut into business's bottom lines. 

    "We've had some of our streets blocked for a period of time, but generally after a period of time the protesters disband and business gets back to normal," he said. 

    More than 560 protesters have been arrested since August in the Bismarck-Mandan area and at the main protest camp about 50 miles south of the city, including more than 30 at a Bismarck mall on Friday — one of the busiest days of the year. Police said protesters gathered for a prayer at Kirkwood Mall, and some refused to leave the entrance to a Target store when ordered. 

    Thieves Steal Oversized Teddy Bears From Flower Shop

    [NATL] Thieves Steal Oversized Teddy Bears From Flower Shop
    Police in Marietta, Oklahoma are looking for two thieves who carried out an unusual heist. The pair stole nine life-sized stuffed animals after smashing into a flower shop. Surveillance video shows a suspect in a black hoodie hammering out windows and stealing several large stuffed animals. (Published Friday, Jan. 13, 2017)

    A clash earlier this week near the main protest camp left a police officer and several protesters injured, including Sophia Wilansky, who suffered a serious arm injury and is in satisfactory condition in a Minneapolis hospital.