MANDAN, N.D.-A brief protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline late Sunday morning at the Backwater Bridge, consisting of mostly women and children, dispersed within an hour after law enforcement asked them to leave.
Rob Keller, spokesman for the Morton County Sheriff's Department, said the protest of about 100 people started about 10:30 a.m. at the bridge and protesters placed the children at the front. The protesters prayed, but no aggressive or serious confrontations occurred, he said.
The incident lasted between a half hour and 45 minutes, and there were only verbal exchanges from the protesters. "Law enforcement let them know they had to retreat and they eventually did," Keller said.
Concrete barriers were erected on the bridge by law enforcement this past Wednesday after police and protesters clashed Nov. 20. The bridge has been closed since Oct. 27 when opponents of the pipeline were pushed out of a northern "front line" protest camp that had been established atop the pipeline route and back to the main camps near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Multiple vehicles burned at the bridge site Oct. 27, and authorities said the bridge may be unsafe for traffic due to the fires.
On Sunday, Keller cautioned the protesters that many of their tents on the camp are inadequate for the winter storm forecast for the region leaving them vulnerable to frostbite, the elements and he said that heavy snowfall could cause tents to collapse.
He said other sources of heat could pose a fire risk to the people at the camps and to unwinterized camper vehicles.