North Dakota Pipeline Protesters And Law Enforcement Continue To Clash : The Two-Way At the Dakota Access Pipeline site, officers used pepper spray against demonstrators on government land. The protesters say the pipeline would violate sacred Indian lands and could cause pollution.
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Protesters, Police Still Clashing Over Disputed North Dakota Pipeline

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Protesters, Police Still Clashing Over Disputed North Dakota Pipeline

Protesters, Police Still Clashing Over Disputed North Dakota Pipeline

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Once again, those protesting a pipeline slated to cross traditional Indian lands in North Dakota clashed with police. That was yesterday. They believe that it threatens the water that goes to the nearby Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. For more, we're joined by Jeff Brady who's on the line with us from Bismarck, N.D.

Good morning.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: And Jeff, we know the overall goal for those protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline is to reroute that pipeline away from the nearby reservation. But what is their immediate goal?

BRADY: Their immediate goal yesterday was to try and get in the way of that construction. You'll remember last week there were protests that turned violent. More than 100 people were arrested and, in that case, protesters had set up camps in the path of the pipeline construction. Police cleared them out. And since then, they've been trying to get back.

Morton County sheriff's office says early Wednesday, a few people built this kind of makeshift wood bridge so that protesters could get across a large creek and occupy that construction site. Police in small boats - they knocked down that bridge and threatened to arrest anyone who went across for trespassing.

Officers used pepper spray and what they called non-lethal ammunition. One protester I talked to lifted his shirt for me, showed me this big, round bruise under his left arm, bright red and purple. And he said he thought he'd been hit by some sort of beanbag that an officer had fired at him. There was a standoff for a few hours, then protesters dispersed and went back to the camps where hundreds of people are still staying even today.

MONTAGNE: So the goal was to occupy this construction site, but it sounds like they did not succeed.

BRADY: No, not yesterday. And I think they realize that they really can't outpower the police. There are officers coming in from other states to help here. And some protesters couldn't even get near where the action was. They were on the opposite side of a river, so a few of them actually waded into the water, and it's very cold this time of year. They started yelling at police.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORIDNG)

STEPHANIE JASPER: Your paychecks come from our tax dollars - out of our paychecks.

BRADY: That voice you hear is Stephanie Jasper from Tampa Bay, Fla. She was standing waist-deep in the water. She tried to get officers to turn in their badges and join the protesters. She did not get any takers, I have to say. After the protest, I sat down with Jasper and she talked about this one protest technique that's pretty unique.

JASPER: There were also people holding mirrors just asking the cops to look at themselves and reflect. And then look at us and see that we are unarmed and to kind of count the weapons that they had on them and count the weapons that we had on us. And the only weapon that we have is prayer.

BRADY: So - very earnest person there, totally opposed to this pipeline and certainly wants to make sure that anyone who will listen, she can tell them that.

MONTAGNE: And...

BRADY: I'm also...

MONTAGNE: But...

BRADY: I should also mentioned that there was one arrest yesterday. The Morton County sheriff's office said one person was arrested for buying canoes and kayaks and then trying to get people to move across the creek in those...

MONTAGNE: Well, just briefly - President Obama also weighed in on the Dakota Access Pipeline. He - earlier this week, he said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is looking at changing the route of the pipeline. What's the reaction to that in just 15 seconds?

BRADY: Yeah, the court hasn't said much. The company that's building the pipeline was very surprised by this. It was news to them. And now we really just need to wait and see where the corps is going to come down on this - if they're going to choose a new route or not.

MONTAGNE: Jeff, thanks very much.

BRADY: Thank you.

MONTAGNE: That's NPR's Jeff Brady in Bismarck, N.D.

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