Thursday, February 23, 2017

Two children burned after Dakota Access protesters set 20 fires during evacuation

Two children were burned, one of them severely, at the Dakota Access camp evacuation Wednesday after remaining activists set fire to about 20 shelters and a vehicle in what was described as a departure ceremony. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said a 17-year-old girl was airlifted to a hospital in Minneapolis, and that a seven-year-old boy was also hurt as most of the activists left the camp in compliance with a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers eviction order. Most of those remaining at the camp left peacefully, but 10 protesters were arrested after making their way onto Highway 1806 and refusing to disperse. “In the intentional burning of some of the buildings, which may have been ceremonial in nature … there was apparently either a fire out of control or an explosion,” said Mr. Burgum at a livestream press conference after the evacuation. “There was a 17-year-old woman who was severely burned.” The North Dakota Joint Information Center reported at least two explosions at the Oceti Sakowin camp, the largest of the pipeline protest camps located on federal land in a floodplain near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. “We’re sharing that because obviously it’s very sad for all the people involved,” the Republican governor said. Those arrested were charged with obstructing a government function, which is a misdemeanor, bringing the total number of arrests since August to about 720, said Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier. Mr. Burgum said that those who were arrested “really had to be trying to get it done.” “For someone to be arrested on the road today, they had to have interaction with law enforcement within the arrest zone with the intention of being arrested,” Mr. Burgum said. “In the true North Dakota way, they had every opportunity to walk away and not be arrested. So this is clearly a case where to be arrested today you really had to be trying to get it done because that was not part of our operational plan.” While most of the remaining 200-300 protesters exited the camp, some aided by free travel, food and hotel vouchers from the state, as many as 50 people remain, the smallest number since protest activity against the pipeline kicked into high gear in August...more

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