| CANNON BALL, N.D.
CANNON BALL, N.D. Dec 3 U.S. military veterans
will meet with tribal leaders on Saturday as they continue to
entrench themselves in a North Dakota camp where thousands of
activists are protesting a multibillion-dollar pipeline project
near a Native American reservation.
Veterans Stand for Standing Rock members will meet with
Standing Rock Sioux elders to determine how the potentially
3,500 veterans arriving over the weekend can aide protesters who
have spent months demonstrating against plans to route the
Dakota Access Pipeline beneath a lake near the tribe's
The group of veterans are also expected over the weekend to
complete building a barracks and mess hall near where they
constructed a headquarters at the Oceti Sakowin camp about 5
miles (8 km) north of the small town of Cannon Ball.
The Native Americans and protesters say the $3.8 billion
pipeline threatens water resources and sacred sites.
Wesley Clark Jr, a writer whose father is retired U.S. Army
General Wesley Clark, met with law enforcement on Friday to tell
them that 3,500 veterans may join the protest and the
demonstrations would be carried out peacefully, protest leaders
Tribal leaders asked the veterans, who aim to form a wall in
front of police to protect the protesters, to avoid
confrontation with authorities and not get arrested.
There have been violent confrontations near the route of the
pipeline with state and local law enforcement, who used tear
gas, rubber bullets and water hoses on the protesters, even in
"I felt it was our duty and very personally more of a call
of duty than I ever felt in the service to come and stand in
front of the guns and the mace and the water and the threat that
they pose to these people," said Anthony Murtha, 29, a Navy
veteran from Detroit, at the Oceti Sakowin camp.
Some 564 people have been arrested, the Morton County
Sheriff's Department said.
The number of protesters in recent weeks has topped 1,000.
State officials on Monday ordered them to leave the snowy camp,
which is on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land, citing harsh
weather, but on Wednesday they said they would not enforce the
Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier spoke by phone on
Friday with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, but assistance
for law enforcement and a timeline for a resolution to the
situation were not offered, the sheriff's office said.
Lynch said in a statement that the U.S. Department of
Justice has been in communication with all sides in an effort to
reduce tensions and foster dialogue.
State officials never contemplated forcibly removing
protesters, and Dalrymple said his evacuation order stemmed
mainly from concerns about dangerously cold conditions as the
temperature in Cannon Ball is expected to fall to 4 degrees
Fahrenheit (-16 Celsius) next week.
The 1,172-mile (1,885-km) pipeline project, owned by
Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP, is mostly
complete, except for a segment planned to run under Lake Oahe, a
reservoir formed by a dam on the Missouri River.
Protesters, who refer to themselves as "water protectors",
have been gearing up for the winter while they await the Army
Corps decision on whether to allow Energy Transfer to tunnel
under the river. The Army Corps has twice delayed that decision.
(Additional reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago, Brendan
O'Brien in Milwaukee and David Gaffen in New York; editing by