At least 141 protesters were arrested in the tense standoff that spilled into Friday morning while the rest of the demonstrators were cleared from camp.
Police in riot gear and military personnel removed the demonstrators using trucks, buses and military Humvees while an airplane and helicopters monitored the situation from above.
Peaceful Dakota Access Pipeline protestors were met with a militarized police force of more than 200 police officers, complete with riot gear and armored vehicles. Law enforcement arrived to try to break up the camp of people who have been protesting against an oil pipeline that crosses federally sanctioned Native American land and a local water supply.
"It's a state highway, we are going to clear this highway today" -cop pic.twitter.com/IW6dSuuhJ4— wes enzinna (@wesenzinna) October 27, 2016
The Guardian reported the story live as arrests were made at the site where the pipeline construction is set to begin. The surrounding areas have become campgrounds for the water protectors in the past few months, but police responded violently when the protestors tried to block an access road to the construction site. Cempoalli Twenny documented the police's initial arrival as they lined up to force protestors off the road.
The video shows police looking like an invading army as they line up, 3-5 officers deep across the highway and begin pushing the protestors back to their original camp.
The water protectors are heard screaming as the line moves steadily forward, some people falling under their feet, with friends lifting them out of harm's way at the last moment. An officer used a loudspeaker to warn the crowd, "If you are arrested, do not resist arrest."
Media posted to Twitter has confirmed the use of rubber bullets and pepper spray by the massive group of police and private security. The addition of private security has been a disturbing trend in past violence against the protestors. Earlier this year, private groups used dogs against them, resulting in injuries.
As this story develops, Sheriff Kirchmeier promises there will be a police presence "as long as it takes." A man named Atsa E'sha Hoferer consistently recorded throughout the day, providing access to the public since media drones have been shot down by law enforcement. His videos offered an up-close look at the atmosphere on the ground.
It's difficult not to feel a powerful emotional reaction watching the dozens of live streams from the water protectors, knowing that this is not the first time, nor likely the last, that police will harass the protestors. Mainstream media continues to mostly ignore the protest which began in January 2016.
As Native Americans fight for their land and the right for all Americans to have access to safe, clean water and a renewable future, the least the rest of America can do is wake up to what is happening right now on our own soil.
Banner Image Credit: Twitter @_Native_Life