Today is the deadline for the few hundred remaining protesters at Oceti Sakowin camp in North Dakota. Some protesters have decided to end their time at the camp by burning down structures that were built on the site. From the Associated Press:
Some of the praying protesters said burning the structures — which appeared to include a yurt and a teepee — was part of the ceremony of leaving. As heavy rain turned to snow, some said they expected no trouble during the eviction, despite a heavy law enforcement presence.
“People are being very mindful, trying very hard to stay in prayer, to stay positive,” said Nestor Silva, 37, of California. “I am not aware of any plans for belligerence.”…
Dom Cross, an Oglala Sioux from Pine Ridge, South Dakota, said he planned to return home after living at the camp since September.
“There’s a lot of sadness right now. We have to leave our second home,” he said.
After months of showdowns with police, local law enforcement will finally clear the camp today. Authorities are being gracious to the exiting protesters. There will be buses provided to give them a ride to Bismark, ND. Each protester will be given food, a voucher for one night in a hotel and a bus ticket to take them anywhere in the United States. Fox News reports that authorities are even offering some kind of symbolic arrest aimed at giving the protesters something akin to an honorable way out of the protest. However, anyone who stays past today’s 2pm deadline and refuses the offer will be arrested and charged. One way or another, the camp will be cleared out today.
Once it is empty the work of cleaning up the mess left behind by up to 10,000 protesters will continue. The area where the camp is located is in a flood zone that washes into the local river. There is concern that abandoned cars, garbage and human waste could all wind up in the river if it is not removed before flooding takes place.
Over 700 arrests were made in connection with the protests. Nearly all of those arrested (over 90%) were from out of state. One woman who fired a gun at police during a protest last year has been charged with attempted murder. Earlier this month Chase Iron Eyes, one of the leaders of the remaining protesters at the camp, was arrested and charged with inciting a riot after he led a group of protesters to set up a new camp on higher ground.