The Latest: Sheriff's office lifts blockade at protest camp

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Posted: Dec 04, 2016 5:59 PM
The Latest: Sheriff's office lifts blockade at protest camp

CANNON BALL, N.D. (AP) — The Latest on the Dakota Access pipeline protest (all times local):

4:55 p.m.

The Morton County Sheriff's Office says that it has lifted the blockade on a bridge north of the large Dakota Access oil pipeline protest encampment.

In a statement, it said that it won't be near the bridge as long as protesters stick to the conditions outlined on Saturday, including only coming to the bridge for predetermined meetings with law enforcement.

The release did not comment on the U.S. Army Corps' decision to not grant an easement for the four-state, $3.8 billion pipeline under Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir from which the Standing Rock Sioux tribe gets its drinking water.

The large Oceti Sakowin camp is south of the Backwater Bridge, and several hundred people are camped there.

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4:15 p.m.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch says that the Department of Justice will still monitor the protest in North Dakota and is ready to "provide resources" for those who "can play a constructive role in easing tensions."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Sunday afternoon that the four-state, $3.8 billion Dakota Access oil pipeline cannot be built under Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir where construction had been on hold.

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said in a statement that the Corps' decision "is a serious mistake," ''prolongs the serious problems" that law enforcement faces and "prolongs the dangerous situation" of people camping in cold, snowy conditions.

The federal government has ordered the several hundred people at the main encampment, which is on Corps land, by Monday. Lynch said in a statement that the safety of those in the area, including officers, residents and protesters, "continues to be our foremost concern."

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4:10 p.m.

North Dakota Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer says that the Army Corps' decision not to grant an easement for the Dakota Access oil pipeline is "a very chilling signal" for the future of infrastructure in the U.S.

Cramer said in a statement that infrastructure will be hard to build "when criminal behavior is rewarded this way," apparently referring to the large protest encampment on federal land and the clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement.

The Corps said Sunday afternoon that the pipeline cannot be built under Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir where construction had been on hold.

The route has been the subject of months of protests by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and others, who have argued the pipeline threatens a water source and cultural sites.

Cramer also said that "law and order" will be restored when Donald Trump takes office and that he feels bad for the Corps having to do "diligent work ... only to have their Commander-in-Chief throw them under the bus."

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4 p.m.

The Secretary of the Interior says the Army Corps' decision to not grant an easement for the Dakota Access oil pipeline "ensures there will be an in-depth evaluation of alternative routes."

Sally Jewell also said in a statement that the decision "underscores that tribal rights ... are essential components of the analysis" for the environmental impact statement.

The Corps said Sunday afternoon that the pipeline cannot be built under Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir where construction had been on hold.

The route has been the subject of months of protests by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and others, who have argued the pipeline threatens a water source and cultural sites.

The company constructing the pipeline, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, and the Morton County Sheriff's Office didn't have immediate comment.

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3:45 p.m.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it won't grant an easement for the Dakota Access oil pipeline in southern North Dakota.

Corps spokeswoman Moria Kelley said in a news release Sunday that the administration will not allow the four-state, $3.8 billion pipeline to be built under Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir where construction had been on hold.

Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy said her decision was based on the need to "explore alternate routes" for the pipeline's crossing.

The route has been the subject of months of protests by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and others, who have argued the pipeline threatens a water source and cultural sites.

The company constructing the pipeline, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, and the Morton County Sheriff's Office didn't have immediate comment.

The federal government has ordered people to leave the main encampment, which is on Army Corps of Engineers' land and is close to the construction site, by Monday.

Demonstrators say they're prepared to stay, and federal, state and local authorities say they won't forcibly remove the protesters.

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2:45 p.m.

A disabled Gulf War veteran from Flint, Michigan, says he sees irony in the parallels between his city's lead-tainted water issue and the four-state Dakota Access pipeline.

Art Woodson is a disabled Gulf War veteran who served in the Army and drove to the main protest encampment from North Dakota with two others — a 17-hour nonstop drive. He's here as part of the Veterans Stand for Standing Rock group.

The 49-year-old says he is showing is support for "Native Americans and for water," because Flint residents know "that water is in dire need."

Woodson also said that "they're trying to force pipes on people" but that "we're trying to get pipes in Flint for safe water."

The group had said about 2,000 veterans were going to the camp, where several hundred people have for months protested the $3.8 billion pipeline, but it wasn't clear how many actually arrived.

The government has ordered people to leave the encampment by Monday. Demonstrators say they're prepared to stay.

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1:30 p.m.

A Vietnam veteran who's part of a Michigan tribe says he came to the Dakota Access pipeline protest camp because the issue of water quality is "an issue for everyone."

Sixty-six-year-old Steven Perry is from Traverse City, Michigan, and a member of the Little Traverse Bay band of Odawa Indians. He came to help at the Oceti Sakowin camp, which is on federal land in southern North Dakota, as part of the Veterans Stand for Standing Rock group.

Perry says: "When we fought for this country, we fought for everyone."

The group had said about 2,000 veterans were going to the camp, where several hundred people have for months protested the four-state, $3.8 billion pipeline, but it wasn't clear how many actually arrived.

The government has ordered people to leave the main encampment by Monday, but demonstrators say they're prepared to stay. Federal, state and local authorities say they won't forcibly remove the protesters.

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1:25 p.m.

An organizer with the Veterans Stand for Standing Rock has told a gathering of veterans near the Dakota Access pipeline protest site that elders have asked they have no confrontations with authorities.

Organizer Wes Clark Jr., the son of former Democratic presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark, spoke to about 250 veterans Sunday afternoon.

State authorities have said they talked with the veterans group and will move away Sunday afternoon from the Blackwater Bridge that's north of the Oceti Sakowin camp on federal land if protesters agree to certain conditions.

Wes Clark Jr. spoke of that agreement, saying the National Guard and law enforcement have armored vehicles and are armed. He added: "If we come forward, they will attack us."

The group had said about 2,000 veterans were going to the camp, where several hundred people have for months protested the four-state, $3.8 billion pipeline, but it wasn't clear how many actually arrived. Clark asked veterans to help out anyone who needs it at camp.

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11:10 a.m.

A Navy veteran and Harvard graduate student says he came to the Dakota Access pipeline protest camp because he thought they could use his help.

Twenty-nine-year-old Art Grayson of Cambridge, Massachusetts, said he came to the encampment as part of the Veterans Stand for Standing Rock group. He flew, then met up with other veterans and rode the final leg of the trip from Bismarck in the back of a pickup truck.

Hundreds of veterans are expected to come to the camp on federal land, where several hundred people have been in protest of the four-state, $3.8 billion pipeline for months.

Grayson said that he "couldn't stand by and watch people being abused." He has finals this week, but told his professors "I'll see you when I get back."

The group's GoFundMe.com page had raised more than $1 million of its $1.2 million goal on Sunday, which is to go toward food, transportation and supplies.

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7:25 a.m.

Authorities in North Dakota say they'll move away from a bridge near the main Dakota Access pipeline protest camp by Sunday afternoon if demonstrators agree to certain conditions.

A Morton County Sheriff's Office news release details the conditions as outlined Saturday by Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney, which he said are meant to de-escalate conflict.

They include staying in the Oceti Sakowin camp that's south of the Backwater Bridge, coming to it only if there is a prearranged meeting with law enforcement and not removing barriers.

Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman Dave Archambault and Gov. Jack Dalrymple have agreed to meet. Archambault told the Bismarck Tribune this weekend that he wanted the blockade on the bridge, damaged in late October during a protest, lifted.

Hundreds of veterans are due to gather Sunday on the reservation.