Earlier today I posted about #NoDAPL protesters blocking railroad tracks near Mandan. This evening I can provide more details courtesy of the Morton County Sheriff’s Department.
“Law enforcement responded to protest activity west of Mandan today where 350 protesters blocked interstate commerce on the BNSF railroad resulting in 25 arrests, many of them felony charges,” a press release from Morton County spokesman Rob Keller states. “Protesters used a pickup truck to block the railroad and were attempting to set it on fire.”
That certainly jibes with what was reported from other sources. As I noted in my earlier post, a Bismarck Tribune reporter caught the protesters slashing the tires of a track apparently to keep it from moving:
Protesters have blocked road in with a vehicle. This is the sound of slashed tires going flat pic.twitter.com/Cyvr6sxD1F
— Caroline Grueskin (@cgrueskin) November 15, 2016
More, via Morton County (full press release below):
At approximately 10:00 am today, law enforcement responded to protest activity along Highway 10 west of Mandan where approximately 300-400 protestors had gathered to block a BNSF railroad track. Protestors had moved a pickup truck onto the tracks, slashed its tires, and placed tree limbs and other brush under the vehicle. Law enforcement report that a rope attached to the vehicle was soaked in kerosene and protestors attempted to ignite the vehicle. State troopers used an extinguisher on the rope to stop the fire. Protestors then lifted the truck off the railroad tracks onto the north side of the tracks.
Law enforcement contacted the BNSF yardmaster to halt inbound and outbound trains for about three hours.
Protesters hindered law enforcement officers making arrests which resulted in law enforcement taking greater measures through less-than-lethal force. This included law enforcement using pepper spray, sponge and bean bag rounds and a Taser deployment.
“Protesters ignored repeated orders from law enforcement to go back to their vehicles due to the unlawful natures of their protest.” said Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier. “Protesters blocked the railroad tracks which forced the BNSF railway to hold back several trains during the protest activity. Today’s unlawful obstruction of interstate commerce led to numerous arrests for tampering or damaging a public service.”
Law enforcement were able to remove the protesters from the BNSF track and onto I-94 Business Loop (Old Highway 10) west of Mandan. The law enforcement line moved the protesters east toward Mandan and made arrests along the way.
In addition to felony charges of “tampering or damaging a public service” associated with BNSF, the other arrests included “obstruction of a governmental function”, “criminal trespass”, “disorderly conduct” and “resisting arrest”.
Absolutely ridiculous. Utterly dangerous both to the protesters and the public at large. What if BNSF couldn’t stop a train in time to avoid a collision with this truck? What if that train were carrying hazardous materials?
The criminal recklessness here is amazing, and makes the mantra from protest organizers about their playfulness, their peacefulness, all the more absurd.
Keller provided these photos with a release this evening:
Here are a couple of reader-submitted photos I posted earlier:
Here’s the full press release from Morton County describing today’s protest activities, which also apparently included a peaceful prayer service near the pipeline project on Corps land which happened with permission from the Corps.
More of that please, #NoDAPL.