APTN National News
The United States Army Corps of Engineers says it has no plans for forcible removal of people at the Oceti Sakowin camp.
The news comes just days after Tribal leaders were notified Corps had plans to close the portion of the camp north of the Cannonball River to all public use on Dec. 5.
The Corps initially said the decision was necessary to protect the general public from the “violent confrontations between protesters and law enforcement officials that have occurred in this area, and to prevent death, illness or serious injury to inhabitants of encampments due to the harsh North Dakota winter conditions.”
The decision was welcomed by North Dakota State Senator John Hoeven who issued a statement on the weekend saying, “In light of violent protest activity, the Corps has taken a necessary step to protect public safety. Now, the protesters should respect the law and peacefully leave the protest area.”
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is calling on President Barack Obama to deny the easement that would allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross the Missouri River.
“Those who remain will be considered unauthorized and may be subject to citation under federal, state or local laws,” the Corps said in the statement. “Unfortunately, it is apparent that more dangerous groups have joined this protest and are provoking conflict in spite of the public pleas from Tribal leaders.”
The Corps has never been able to legally issue a permit for the Oceti Sakowin camp due to the pre-existing grazing lease to a local rancher.
The Corps has set up an area south of the Cannonball River they’re calling a “free speech zone.”
A news conference was held at the Oceti Sakowin camp on Sunday. The message from people there was the letter from the Corps about a potential eviction means nothing to them. They plan to continue to hold the camp and stop the pipeline from crossing the river.