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Protests Against the Dakota Access Pipeline Won't Be Stopping Anytime Soon

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Despite months-long efforts to put an end to the project, construction on the $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline is still going strong as of this weekend, The New York Times reports. Native Americans from the nearby Standing Rock Sioux Reservation are at the head of the protests against the pipeline, and they're in it for the long haul—they've constructed shelters and are preparing for a cold winter by handing out blankets and coats.

Last month, the U.S. government intervened in the battle over the project, temporarily blocking the pipeline, which is meant to span 1,170 miles, from crossing under the Missouri River. Tribal and environmental activists have claimed that the pipeline threatens water supplies for tribes along the river, and that its construction will destroy tribal burial grounds and sacred cultural lands.

This past Sunday, a federal appeals court rejected the Standing Rock Sioux’s request for an injunction against the pipeline, allowing construction to continue. The tribe has sued the federal court, using the argument that it wasn’t consulted about how the route of the access would affect their ancestral land.

On Monday, near St. Anthony, N.D., protesters gathered to pitch a tepee beside a section of the pipe. They had one very high-profile member present—actress Shailene Woodley. Twenty-seven people, including Woodley, were arrested at the protest, bringing the total to around 130 since the protests began this summer, the Times reports.

According to the BBC, Woodley and the other 26 protesters were arrested on charges of criminal trespass and engaging in a riot. Woodley broadcast the footage, and said that she was grabbed while walking back to her car. She believed she was being arrested because of her fame.

USA TODAY reports that she was released the same afternoon, following a $500 fine and a scheduled court date. 

Sheriff’s Deputy Jon Moll has been working almost nonstop since summer, and has seen protesters lock themselves to construction equipment or charge deputies on horseback, the Times reports. He says they're trying hard to keep protests from turning violent, though protesters have always maintained that they are peaceful.

The impending winter and many arrests are not holding anybody back, though. Protesters are arriving every day, with fundraisers and plans assuring the arrival of even more in the days and weeks to come.


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