| CANNON BALL, N.D.
CANNON BALL, N.D. Nov 26 Protesters opposed to
an oil pipeline planned to run beneath a lake near the Standing
Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota must vacate an area where
thousands of demonstrators have been camped by Dec. 5 or face
prosecution, according to U.S. authorities.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the federal
land where the main camp protesting the Dakota Access pipeline
is located, said it would close public access to the area north
of the Cannonball River, including to protesters, partly to
protect the general public from violent confrontations between
protesters and law enforcement that have occurred in the area.
Protest organizers said about 5,000 people are camped at the
site. There are smaller camps on land not subject to the planned
restrictions, including an area south of the Cannonball River
where the Corps said it was establishing a free-speech zone.
On Saturday, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple said he
suppported the decision and the federal government must take the
lead in any action to close encampments on Corps land.
Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault said he received
notice on Friday about the decision in a letter from Colonel
John Henderson, an Army Corps district commander.
"If they want public safety, the best thing the federal
government could do is deny the easement" for the pipeline,
Archambault told a news conference on Saturday. "We have an
escalating situation where safety is a concern for everybody."
Archambault said he saw the letter as notice the lands were
no longer available for hunting, fishing and recreation, not to
restrict First Amendment rights to free speech and the tribe was
working on a location on reservation land should people choose
to go there.
"I don't think it will ever be an eviction where forces just
come in and push people out," Archambault said.
Demonstrators have protested for months against the $3.8
billion Dakota Access Pipeline, owned by Energy Transfer
Partners LP , which is planned to carry Bakken shale
oil from North Dakota to Illinois en route to U.S. Gulf Coast
The 1,172-mile (1,885-km) project is mostly complete except
for a segment planned to run under Lake Oahe less than half a
mile north of Standing Rock.
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.
Last weekend, police used water hoses in subfreezing weather
in an attempt to disperse about 400 activists near the proposed
tunnel excavation site.
Demonstrators plan a march at noon Sunday in Washington,
from the Department of Justice to the Washington Monument.
(Writing by David Bailey; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)