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Image Credit: Dan Gunderson / MPR News - Campsite burns as protesters leave the Oceti Sakowin camp near Cannon Ball, N.D. Feb. 22, 2017
Posted: 23 Feb, 2017

Almost 3 dozen arrested in final evacuation of Dakota Access protest camp

First 10 people were arrested Wednesday when they refused final orders to leave the protest camp near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. The Oceti Sakowin camp had dwindled from a peak of nearly 10,000 people to a couple hundred by this week.  After the arrests, an estimated 25 to 50 people remained despite the warning from North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum that there was no more time to waste.

"Anybody that's there is trespassing, so anybody that's there is breaking the law, and anyone who obstructs our ability to do cleanup will be subject to arrest," he said, adding that anyone who willingly leaves the camp without getting in the way of cleanup this week will not be arrested.

In the hours leading up to the deadline, some people burned buildings and tents, sending columns of black smoke to mix with the falling snowflakes. North Dakota officials say a 17-year-old girl suffered severe burns in one of the fires and was flown to a Minneapolis hospital.

On Thursday Police in riot gear then began arresting the remaining protesters at the makeshift camp after they defied the orders to leave the area. 18 National Guardsmen and dozens of law officers entered the camp from two directions, along with several law enforcement and military vehicles. A helicopter and airplane flew overhead. Officers checked structures and began arresting people, putting them in vans to take to jail. About two dozen people were arrested in the first half hour of the operation, according to Levi Bachmeier, a Burgum adviser.

It’s unclear if any protesters remained at the camp after the police officers raided it.

The Army Corps of Engineers says the cleanup bill could top $1 million. The goal is to have the camp site cleared of all debris before the nearby Cannon Ball river overflows its banks and floods much of the area this spring.

Source: NPR News and Fox News