North Dakota pipeline activists vow to continue protests

Protesters opposed to the construction of an oil pipeline in the US state of North Dakota have vowed to keep protesting despite a clash this week with law enforcement officers.

Over 300 people opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline were treated for hypothermia and other ailments after they were soaked by officers in freezing temperatures. The confrontations erupted Sunday night and continued into Monday.

A number of hypothermia victims described a burning sensation as water from the hoses soaked their bodies and ice quickly began forming on their clothes and in their hair.

“All my clothes were literally frozen solid,” said Tony Zavlan of the Chumash Nation, who lives in Santa Barbara.  “My hands weren’t working. They were like a deep purple color.  In my hair, I basically had dreadlocks of ice.” 

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said he was “confident that the decision made to use water was the correct one.”He said he wouldn’t hesitate to use water again if a similar situation arises in the future. 

One female protester from New York City remained hospitalized Wednesday in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after suffering an arm injury by a concussion grenade thrown by law enforcement.

Despite the police violence and increasingly cold temperatures, the protesters vowed to continue their demonstrations.

“Everybody says, no, we won’t leave now,” said Samuel Hannah, from the Havasupai reservation, at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. “Even when this weather comes, and the snow comes, everybody is willing to stay here.” 

The clashes were the latest in a months-long standoff between police and protesters, during which more than 500 people have been arrested.

Police and pipeline protesters clash in North Dakota, November 21, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

The Native American-led protest has grown into a larger movement in the United States, drawing in other tribes, environmentalists and activists.

The 1,885-km (1,172-mile) pipeline, being built by Energy Transfer Partners, would offer the fastest route to bring Bakken shale oil from North Dakota to oil refineries in the US Gulf Coast.

But the $3.7 billion project has infuriated the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and environmental activists who say it threatens the region’s water supply and sacred tribal sites. The tribe’s reservation is close to the pipeline’s route.

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