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Dakota Access: An update

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World Pipelines,

Over 120 people were arrested over the weekend at the Dakota Access oil pipeline protests. Those detained include filmmakers and journalists, which has sparked accusations that law enforcement officials are using excessive force against peaceful protesters and preventing free speech.

According to The Guardian, it has been told by reporters and protesters who have recently released from jail that police aggressively targeted non-violent demonstrators and arrested journalists and film-makers before issuing ‘riot’ and ‘criminal trespassing’ charges.

“I’ve covered conflicts overseas, and I never imagined I would see this kind of show of force against peaceful people,” said Jihan Hafiz, a freelance journalist who was arrested hours after she arrived on Saturday.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has argued that the Dakota Access pipeline is a threat to its water supply and cultural heritage. Clashes have become increasingly wide-spread and tense between police and demonstrators.

Police officials said there the current total of arrests at the protest since August is 269. Thus, almost half of the arrests came over the weekend, when protesters blocked a state highway and law enforcement noted that a drone was flown dangerously close to a police helicopter.

Moreover, this mass arrests occurred less than a week after a judge rejected prosecutors’ riot charges against Amy Goodman, the broadcast journalist and popular Democracy Now! host whose arrest warrant sparked a national outcry about free speech violations.

A group of protesters moved onto a private property that was recently acquired by Energy Transfer Partners. Morton County sheriff's officials called this trespassing but they said that they didn't have the resources or manpower to remove the more than 100 people immediately.

However, since this, Energy Transfer Partners called on the protesters to leave. On Wednesday, officers of three law enforcement agencies formally asked the protesters to go, but they did not oblige. Police have said that they do not want to forcibly remove the demonstrators but they will do so if necessary.

The developer of the Dakota Access pipeline said that the dozens of protesters who are camped on its company owned land are trespassing - and “lawless behaviour will not be tolerated.”

Actor Mark Ruffalo delivered a pair of Navajo solar trailers on Wednesday to help power the encampments established to protest the pipeline.

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