BISMARCK - A spokesman for the North Dakota Highway Patrol says a case of vandalism involving oil poured on the State Capitol on Halloween night appears to be related to the Dakota Access Pipeline protest, as those responsible left a sign saying "You can't drink oil," a popular refrain among protesters.
Lt. Tom Iverson said a "decent amount" of motor oil was poured on the sidewalk, limestone walls and windows at about 9:32 p.m. around the entrance of the legislative wing on the west side of the complex.
Security footage showed a vehicle and two people dressed in black carrying motor oil and the sign, the patrol said. The incident remains under investigation.
Iverson said officers were patrolling the Capitol grounds at the time.
"It had to have happened just narrowly missing the vehicles, the timeframe of the patrols," he said.
Facility Management Director John Boyle said crews spent about two hours washing off the oil with pressure washers and solution. No damage was done to the Capitol, he said.
North Dakota is currently at the center of the fossil fuels debate as a protest of the four-state, $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline has drawn thousands of protesters to the state and interest from around the world. Authorities made 141 arrests last Thursday as they cleared a protesters' roadblock on Highway 1806 in southern Morton County and evicted protesters from a camp they'd set up in the path of the pipeline construction.
The state has spent an estimated $8 million on law enforcement and other costs in response to the protests, and the state Emergency Commission is meeting Tuesday to consider borrowing an additional $4 million from the Bank of North Dakota to fund the efforts.
"I don't know necessarily if whoever did this is down south of Mandan at the protest," Iverson said. "However, it's directly related to the DAPL protest issue."
Monday's incident wasn't the first instance of vandalism in Bismarck related to the protest. In mid-September, Bismarck police received reports of two vehicles and a cargo trailer being vandalized with yellow spray paint with the letters #NODAPL, the social media hashtag short for "No Dakota Access Pipeline."