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The Latest: Threat of another pipeline protest clash eases

Posted November 21

— The Latest on the protest against the Dakota Access oil pipeline. (all times local):

2:20 p.m.

Another potential clash between Dakota Access oil pipeline protesters and law officers over a disputed bridge in southern North Dakota has eased.

The bridge on state Highway 1806 is near the protesters' main camp. It's been shut down for weeks because authorities say it might be unsafe due to earlier fires set by protesters. Protesters say the closed bridge blocks emergency services and their access to pipeline construction sites.

The two sides clashed overnight, with officers using tear gas, rubber bullets and water sprays against protesters they say assaulted officers with rocks and burning logs.

Protesters and police massed at the bridge again Monday morning. Protesters went back to the camp Monday afternoon at the request of Standing Rock Sioux elders, after reports of firearms in the crowd.

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1:50 p.m.

North Dakota's state Capitol building is on a "soft lockdown" due to the protest against the Dakota Access oil pipeline, with the doors locked but members of the public being granted access if they have legitimate business.

The Highway Patrol provides security for the Capitol. Lt. Tom Iverson says the soft lockdown was put in place Monday due to protesters being in the Bismarck area. They've previously demonstrated at the Capitol.

Iverson says state workers can get into the Capitol with their security key cards. He says members of the public who have legitimate business are being granted access by officers staffing the entrances.

A small group of protesters briefly blocked traffic in downtown Bismarck on Monday morning.

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12:50 p.m.

Most Dakota Access oil pipeline protesters have backed away from another potential confrontation with law officers, with only about a dozen protesters remaining on a disputed bridge in southern North Dakota.

The bridge on state Highway 1806 has been shut down for weeks because authorities say it might be unsafe due to earlier fires set by protesters. Protesters say the closed bridge blocks emergency services and also blocks their access to pipeline construction sites.

The two sides clashed overnight, with protesters saying officers used tear gas, rubber bullets and water sprays and authorities saying protesters assaulted officers with rocks and burning logs.

Protesters and police began massing at the bridge again midday Monday, but about 200 protesters backed away after reports of firearms in the crowd.

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12:05 p.m.

Dakota Access oil pipeline protesters and law officers are facing off again at a shut-down bridge on a state highway near the protesters' camp in southern North Dakota.

The two sides clashed overnight, with protesters saying officers used tear gas, rubber bullets and water sprays and authorities saying protesters assaulted officers with rocks and burning logs.

Officers and protesters began massing on opposite sides of the bridge again mid-Monday. Law officers told the crowd they had identified firearms among the protesters and said people who were armed should leave. They also said protesters who went onto the bridge could be arrested.

Many protesters held up their hands and told the officers they had come in peace. Native Hawaiian Daniel Kanahele (kahn-uh-HEE'-lee) blew a conch shell to summon native spirits.

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11:15 a.m.

Dakota Access oil pipeline protesters are congregating again at a shut-down bridge on a state highway near their camp in southern North Dakota where they clashed with law officers overnight.

Dallas Goldtooth with the Indigenous Environmental Network says protesters want to remove burned-out vehicles on the bridge so officers "can see us face to face, who we are, as peaceful water protectors."

Authorities say the protesters aren't peaceful. Morton County Sheriff's spokesman Rob Keller says "criminal agitators" assaulted officers with rocks and burning logs, and one officer suffered a head injury.

Goldtooth says dozens of protesters were injured when officers employed tear gas and rubber bullets and sprayed water on them. He says at least 17 protesters were taken to hospitals, some with hypothermia.

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10:10 a.m.

The Army Corps of Engineers and the company developing the Dakota Access pipeline are arguing in court over whether the Corps granted a critical easement for the project.

Energy Transfer Partners says in a filing Sunday that the Corps granted an easement in July for its pipeline to go under Lake Oahe in southern North Dakota. The company says the Corps said several times that approval was complete and the easement signed.

The company has asked a federal judge to allow it to move ahead over the federal government's opposition.

The Corps disagrees in its own filing Friday, saying an easement decision hasn't been made.

The Standing Rock Sioux and other groups have demonstrated against the four-state, thousand-mile pipeline for months.

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9:40 a.m.

Authorities are defending their use of water hoses against Dakota Access oil pipeline protesters during a skirmish in below-freezing weather.

Morton County Sheriff's spokesman Rob Keller says the water hoses were used to put out fires set by protesters and to keep protesters away from law officers during a violent clash that was "rapidly unfolding."

The conflict between protesters and officers happened late Sunday and early Monday on a long-blocked bridge on state Highway 1806, near a camp where demonstrators have gathered for months.

Dallas Goldtooth with the Indigenous Environmental Network says at least 17 people were taken to hospitals, some with hypothermia.

Authorities say protesters assaulted officers with rocks and burning logs, and one officer was injured. One protester was arrested.

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8:15 a.m.

A man helping organize protests against the Dakota Access oil pipeline says about 180 protesters were injured in the latest skirmish with police in North Dakota.

Dallas Goldtooth with the Indigenous Environmental Network says at least 17 people were taken to hospitals.

Protesters late Sunday and early Monday tried to push past a long-blocked bridge on state Highway 1806. They were turned back by law enforcement. Goldtooth says officers used water cannons in frigid weather, rubber bullets and pepper spray.

The Morton County Sheriff's Department estimates 400 protesters sought to cross what's known as the Backwater Bridge. It's been closed for weeks because authorities say it might be unsafe due to earlier fires.

Authorities say protesters assaulted officers with rocks and burning logs. At least one person was arrested.

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00:35 a.m.

Tension flared anew on the Dakota Access pipeline as protesters tried to push past a long-blocked bridge on a state highway, only to be turned back by a line of law enforcement using water cannon and what appeared to be tear gas.

Sunday's skirmishes began around 6 p.m. after protesters removed a burned-out truck on what's known as the Backwater Bridge, not far from the encampment where they've been for weeks as they demonstrate against the pipeline. The Morton County Sheriff's Department estimated 400 protesters sought to cross the bridge on state Highway 1806.

At least one person was arrested.

Protesters said a gym in Cannon Ball was opened to aid demonstrators who were soaked on a night the temperature dipped into the low 20s or were hit with tear gas.

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