Federal judge sides with police in use of force case involving Dakota pipeline protesters

A U.S. district court judge has ruled in favor of law enforcement regarding a case brought by Dakota Access Pipeline protesters who claimed that police used excessive force to disperse a 2016 demonstration in North Dakota.

A report in the Bismark Tribune said that on Nov. 20, temperatures dropped to below freezing while police and demonstrators faced off north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, as officers used water to disperse them.

Lawyers for the protesters who filed suit against police said officers also fired rubber bullets as well as exploding munitions “indiscriminately into the crowd” while also deploying tear gas, resulting in some of the demonstrators being injured on the night of the confrontation.

But attorneys for police, including Kyle Kirchmeier, the Morton County sheriff, argued that officers were outnumbered by the demonstrators and were also concerned about their safety and lives as they pushed to have legal claims lodged by protesters dismissed.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Daniel Traynor, a Trump appointee, granted officers’ request, The Associated Press reported, adding that Morton County Assistant State’s Attorney Gabrielle Goter said in a statement she was pleased with the outcome.

“An attorney for the plaintiffs did not immediately comment on the case,” the AP noted, adding, “The lead plaintiff is Vanessa Dundon, a member of the Navajo Nation whose eye was injured the night of the incident.”

The focus of the demonstrations was to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which began in June 2016 and was completed by April 2017, with the first oil flowing the following month. Activists said they were concerned about environmental damage, via oil leaks, that the pipeline would potentially cause on Native American ceremonial lands.

But shortly after the pipeline went live, eco-terrorists began sabotaging it in a series of “coordinated physical attacks” that included burning holes into sections, which then caused oil spills.

“When demonstrators were ordered off the site after months of protesting, they left behind mountains of trash for someone else to pick up, and even abandoned dogs and puppies,” BizPac Review reported.

“Extremely sad being these guys were left behind, but Furry Friends offers hope,” volunteer Tiffany Hardy told Fox News at the time.

Meanwhile, Julie Schirado, another volunteer, said that it was difficult to find the abandoned animals because they were mostly hidden behind mounds of trash that the environmentally concerned protesters left behind.

“It’s a mess down there, so it’s really, really hard to find these animals,” Schirado said.

In July, the Biden administration imposed $93,000 in fines on the pipeline’s operator over alleged safety violations.

“Energy Transfer, the company that operated the Dakota Access pipeline, violated regulations in at least six locations because the valves used for drainage of stormwater weren’t accessible from outside, according to the notice,” The Daily Caller reported. “The company also did not correct hazards into at least one valve used for nitrogen release.”

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