Tuesday, November 29, 2016

N.D. governor orders pipeline protesters to leave, citing weather concerns; protesters staying put

5,000 to 7,000 people are camping at the protest site
(Forum News Service photo by Kevin Cederstrom)
Outgoing North Dakota Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple "has ordered an emergency evacuation of the Dakota Access Pipeline protest camps on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land, citing safety concerns due to harsh winter weather," Amy Dalrymple reports for the Fargo Forum. A winter storm warning is in effect in the area through Wednesday morning, with forecasts calling for 8 to 13 inches of snow and winds reaching up to 25 miles per hour.

The emergency order, signed Monday, "states that people camping in areas near the Cannonball River are ordered to leave immediately and take their possessions with them," Dalrymple writes. "The order comes three days after the Corps told the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe it would close the Corps-managed land north of the Cannonball River on Dec. 5."

The order states: “Any person who chooses to enter, re-enter, or stay in the evacuation does so at their own risk, and assumes any and all corresponding liabilities for their unlawful presence and occupation of the evacuation area," Dalrymple writes. Jeff Zent, a spokesman for the governor, said the order will stay "in effect until rescinded, applies to Corps lands where the agency has not permitted camping." He said protesters would not be forcibly removed.

Protesters said they have no plans of leaving the camp, Dalrymple writes. Angela Bibens, an attorney who is leading a legal collective at the camp, told reporters "she does not believe the governor has jurisdiction on Corps-managed land. Bibens called the governor’s order a 'misuse of emergency declarations to justify an armed invasion of peaceful encampment' and said the collective will take legal action if any force is imposed on the camps."

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