Morton County Sheriffs Department(MANDAN, N.D.) — An estimated 400 Dakota Access pipeline demonstrators clashed early Monday morning with police at a highway barrier manned by dozens of officers. Advancing protesters met a police response of tear gas, rubber bullets and a water cannon that soaked them in below-freezing temperatures.
The protesters gathered near Backwater Bridge, trying to go north on highway 1806 while law enforcement officers formed a line north of the bridge to stop them.
Protest organizers say 167 people were hurt, with seven hospitalized for head injuries. Police claim they have “not received any reports that can be verified of protesters that were injured,” and say one officer was hit in the head with a rock.
At least one person was arrested.
Video of the confrontation live streamed by the protesters appeared to show law enforcement using tear gas and a water cannon, and protesters complained of being doused with water in the frigid temperatures.
Tara Houska, an organizer with Honor the Earth, told the Bismarck Tribune that the Cannon Ball gym was opened to aid people who had been hit with water or tear gas.
The sheriff’s department said protesters were trying to start fires, and Mandan Rural and Bismarck Fire Departments were on the scene. Protesters said the they started the fires to warm up after being hit with the water cannon.
The incident began around 6 p.m. Sunday evening, police said, when protesters removed a truck that had been on the bridge since Oct. 27.
Police said between 100 and 200 protesters remained near the bridge at 1:00 a.m. local time.
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