Drive-by Dakota Access Pipeline protest through Morton County halts construction for over 2 hours

Published: Oct. 3, 2016 at 5:42 PM CDT
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Protests at Dakota Access Pipeline construction sites have become commonplace in Morton County the past couple months.

The demonstrations have been peaceful most of the time but on a few occasions confrontations have occurred that resulted in injuries or arrests.

What took place near St. Anthony Monday can best be described as a drive-by protest. Law enforcement agencies and protesters have engaged at many sites in different ways, but never like this. A convoy of more than 100 cars, trucks and vans never stopped as it traveled through Morton County Monday, but its presence stopped work at several Dakota Access Pipeline construction sites.

"Got to work for about two hours, and we had to evacuate because we heard that we're facing a large number of people coming in towards our worksites, and I guess we probably lost about close to two, two and a half hours of work after that," says a pipeline worker from Labor Union 563.

About 20 workers were evacuated from a work zone near St. Anthony, and the lost time comes at a high cost to labor union members.

"We've had workers that came to work ready to work, and they don't get to and that affects their paychecks," says a pipeline worker.

Workers have become used to the un-scheduled construction delays, and they don't expect the protests will stop anytime soon.

"We're here to protect land and water. We're not uprooting it, we're not the ones with the machines pushing everything out of the way. We have that civil right," says Cody Hall, Red Warrior Camp Spokesperson.

Protests that have interrupted work have cost workers about two weeks of time and thousands of dollars in lost wages. Despite the setbacks, workers vow to finish the job they've started.

"We work up into negative 20s at times if we have to, and it's, you know, there's no stop. I mean we can keep moving, and we're going to have to keep moving because it's a project that needs to be finished," says a pipeline worker.

A date for completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline is in the hands of the legal system. But until a definitive decision is handed down, both sides of this conflict appear to be in it for the long haul.

Monday's drive-by protest disrupted work at the site for roughly two and a half hours.