| BISMARCK, N.D.
BISMARCK, N.D. Nov 25 More than 30 activists
protesting plans to run an oil pipeline beneath a lake near a
North Dakota Indian reservation were arrested on Friday at a
retail mall during a rally timed to coincide with the busiest
shopping day of the year.
The demonstrators, including members of the Standing Rock
Sioux Tribe, walked into the Kirkwood Mall in downtown Bismarck
and formed a prayer circle just inside the entrance, defying
demands by mall management that they leave the premises.
Police reported that at least 33 people were taken into
custody at the mall for trespassing on private property.
Kandi Mossett, an activist with the Indigenous Environmental
Network opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline, said 40 to 50
protesters were arrested. Many were seen being led away in
handcuffs to a police van parked outside the mall.
According to accounts from police and protest organizers,
the demonstrators were orderly and quiet.
Still, Mossett said the rally was held at the main shopping
center of North Dakota's capital city on "Black Friday" in a bid
to draw more attention to a pipeline project that critics say
poses a threat to water resources and sacred Native American
About 100 protesters had assembled at the mall by the time
officers arrived shortly before 1 p.m. local time, Bismarck
police Sergeant Mark Buschena said. Arrests were made after
protesters disregarded repeated orders to disperse, he said.
The incident marked the latest in a string of protests
against the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, being built to
carry Bakken shale oil from North Dakota to Illinois en route to
U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.
The 1,172-mile (1,885-km) project is mostly complete except
for an especially controversial segment that is supposed to run
under Lake Oahe, formed by a dam on the Missouri River, about a
half mile from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.
The Obama administration in September postponed final
approval of a permit required to allow tunneling beneath the
lake, a move intended to give federal officials more time to
consult with tribal leaders. But the delay also led to
escalating tensions over the project.
Confrontations between law enforcement and protesters turned
violent again last weekend when police used water hoses in
sub-freezing weather in an attempt to disperse about 400
activists near the proposed tunnel excavation site.
(Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los
Angeles; Editing by Andrew Hay)