Dakota Access, an oil pipeline company, employed private security guards who used dogs and pepper spray against Native American protesters in Morton County, North Dakota, on Sept. 3 (video below).
The protesters were demonstrating against a $3.8 billion proposed pipeline that will span from North Dakota to Illinois.
Democracy Now! news anchor Amy Goodman and her TV crew filmed one of the pipeline workers, wearing a hard hat, throwing a protester down on the ground, which spurred several other demonstrators to run over the dirt mounds being bulldozed.
As the protesters advanced, bulldozers backed up, and security guards used pepper spray and dogs. Some of the protesters were reportedly bitten by the dogs; one canine allegedly had blood on its mouth.
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A male company employee held what appeared to be pepper spray, but denied spraying people; a female employee was seen using a dog to advance on protesters.
At that point, angry demonstrators backed the security guards up to their vehicles, in which the guards soon departed.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, one of the groups that protested, asserted in federal court that Dakota Access workers intentionally used bulldozers (seen in the video) on sacred burial grounds, notes the Grand Forks Herald.
Jan Hasselman, the tribe’s lawyer, filed an emergency motion Sept. 4 for a temporary restraining order against the pipeline construction until a federal judge issues a decision on the tribe's request for a permanent order.
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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said in court papers Sept. 5 that it would not oppose the temporary restraining order because the "public interest would be served by preserving peace."
According to Hasselman, the tribe offered evidence on Sept. 2 of least 27 burial sites and other culturally significant stone features in the pipeline's path.
The tribe said that Dakota Access workers removed or buried all the features in and near the pipeline's path.
Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement: "The desecration of these ancient places has already caused the Standing Rock Sioux irreparable harm. We’re asking the court to halt this path of destruction."
Dakota Access spokeswoman Vicki Anderson Granada stated: "We were legally on private property that we have an easement on and have all the proper permits and approvals. We were constructing according to our plans. Additionally, there has been nothing destroyed as claimed."
The Morton County Sheriff’s Office accused the protesters of stampeding into the construction area and assaulting the security guards.
The American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota asserted that the security guards used biting dogs and pepper spray, which is supported by the video footage.