(Corrects length of pipeline to 1,885 km in paragraph 10)
By Chris Michaud and Stephanie Keith
NEW YORK/CANNON BALL, N.D. Nov 21 Police fired
tear gas and water at hundreds of protesters in North Dakota
opposed to an oil pipeline in freezing weather late Sunday and
early Monday, in the latest violent clash between law
enforcement and activists over the $3.7 billion project.
An estimated 400 protesters mounted the Backwater Bridge
just north of Cannon Ball, North Dakota, and attempted to force
their way past police in what the Morton County Sheriff's
Department initially described as an "ongoing riot."
A joint statement from several activist groups said
protesters were trying to remove the burned vehicles blocking
Backwater Bridge in order to restore access to the nearby
Standing Rock encampments so emergency services and local
traffic can move freely.
Police fired volleys of tear gas at the protesters to
prevent them from crossing the bridge. Law enforcement also
sprayed protesters with water in sub-freezing temperatures, and
fired rubber bullets, injuring some in the crowd.
"It is below freezing right now and the Morton County
Sheriff's Department is using a water cannon on our people -
that is an excessive and potentially deadly use of force," said
Dallas Goldtooth, a spokesman for the Indigenous
Environmental Network, one of the organizations involved in
A statement from the sheriff's' department said one arrest
had been made by 8:30 p.m. local time (0230 GMT Monday), about
2-1/2 hours after the incident began 45 miles (30 miles) south
of Bismarck, the North Dakota capital. About 100 to 200
protesters remained after midnight.
The protest was latest in a series of demonstrations against
the Dakota Access Pipeline that Native American activists and
environmentalists say threatens water resources and sacred
The Dakota Access project has drawn steady opposition from
activists since the summer, led by the Standing Rock Sioux
tribe, whose tribal lands are adjacent to the pipeline.
Supporters of the pipeline, owned by Energy Transfer
Partners, said the project offers the most direct route
for taking shale oil from North Dakota to Gulf Coast refineries
and would be safer than road or rail transportation.
Completion of the pipeline, set to run 1,172 miles (1,885
km) from North Dakota to Illinois, was delayed in September so
federal authorities could re-examine permits required by the
Army Corps of Engineers. A final decision on the permit has been
deferred for more consultation with the tribe.
The latest confrontation began after protesters removed a
truck that had been on the bridge since Oct. 27, police said.
The North Dakota Department of Transportation closed the
Backwater Bridge, which crosses Cantapeta Creek north of the
Standing Rock Sioux tribe's camp, due to damage from that
The Morton County Sheriff's Department said officers on the
scene of the latest confrontation were "describing protesters'
actions as very aggressive."
Demonstrators tried to start about a dozen fires as they
attempted to outflank and "attack" law enforcement barricades,
the sheriff's statement said. Police said protesters had hurled
rocks, striking one officer, and fired burning logs from
(Reporting by Chris Michaud in New York and Stephanie Keith in
Cannon Ball, North Dakota; Editing by David Gaffen and