By the time you read this the sun will have already risen in North Dakota, where a few hundred dead end protesters are hanging on in what remains of the Dakota Access Pipeline camps. Obstruction of the project essentially collapsed once Donald Trump took office and the Army gave the go-ahead for the final sections of pipe to be laid. Even the Standing Rock tribe has asked the unwelcome visitors to depart, preferring to fight the rest of the battle in court, but the remaining holdouts do not appear to be convinced. (Associated Press)

As dawn breaks over an encampment that was once home to thousands of people protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline, a few hundred holdouts rise for another day of resistance.

They aren’t deterred by the threat of flooding, nor by declarations from state and federal authorities that they must leave by Wednesday or face possible arrest. They’re determined to remain and fight a pipeline they maintain threatens the very sanctity of the land.

“If we don’t stand now, when will we?” said Tiffanie Pieper, of San Diego, who has been in the camp most of the winter.

Using the phrase “a few” is rather deceptive. We’re talking about a couple hundred people still remaining on site. Choosing to remain even when the area is under threat of flooding (as often happens this time of year) and in defiance of federal authorities probably seems noble to some of their more liberal supporters. But the reality is that the battle has been lost and it’s time to pack up and go back home to Boston, California and the various other locations these activists traveled from.

It’s also worth remembering that the remnants of the camp are on federal land owned by the Army Corps of Engineers. All of the pertinent questions have been asked and answered in courts of law. At this point law enforcement has a serious decision to make. If the protesters still refuse to leave today this needs to be the last red line which has been crossed. It’s time to arrest these people, cart them off to jail and bulldoze the remnants of the camp. The media will have a field day with it of course, probably summoning up images of the Kent State shooting and any other iconic scenes which serve their purposes. That is no reason not to proceed.

The fine tradition of protesting actions of the government in the United States has been more than fully respected and permitted over the course of this saga. The conversation was brought before the nation and everyone had their chance to express their opinions. Nobody’s rights have been suppressed and the matter has been handled in regular order, so delaying the project further now crosses the line from freedom of speech to felonious criminal activity.

Deadlines which are not enforced are meaningless and turn law enforcement into a joke. It’s time to clean that camp out and get on with the business of the day.