North Dakota Governor Jack Darlymple ordered the immediate evacuation of the main Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp Monday. The government order comes after rumors this weekend that Darlymple wanted the federal government to intervene and remove protesters, or “water protectors,” as they have called themselves.
In the emergency evacuation order Darlymple said, “Winter conditions have the potential to endanger human life, especially when they are exposed to these conditions without proper shelter, dwellings, or sanitation for prolonged periods of time.”
Unsaid in the order is the fact that police used water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets against protesters last week in below freezing temperatures. The order also read: “The aforementioned areas of Morton County are not zoned for dwellings suitable for living in winter conditions, and also do not possess proper permanent sanitation infrastructure to sustain a living environment consistent with proper public health.”
On Friday the Army Corps of Engineers said protesters had until Dec. 5 to leave the area. The Corps also said a “free speech zone” would be designated for protesters nearby.
During an earlier encounter between protesters and police, a young woman reported police hitting her with a grenade. Some have criticized law enforcement’s handling of the situation, especially when compared to the Oregon Militia standoff earlier this year.
This past Friday, 33 peaceful anti-Dakota pipeline protesters were arrested at a North Dakota mall.