U.S. Army Corps order DAPL protesters to leave by Dec. 5

U.S. Army Corps order DAPL protesters to leave by Dec. 5

A Eugene law firm is suing law enforcement agencies and the North Dakota County where thousands of Standing Rock Sioux and their allies are camped in protest of the expansion of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Earlier, officials had warned of a physical blockade, but the governor's office backed away from that. The lawsuit alleges Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirschmeier and others used excessive force against protesters on November 20 at a blockaded bridge on a state highway.

Morton County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Maxine Herr said authorities will be "passively" enforcing the governor's order for protesters to vacate the area.

The Sioux through a more than century-old treaty with the USA government hold the rights to the land.

Texas-based pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners says the 1,200-mile pipeline through the Dakotas, Iowa and IL will be safe.

On Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers delivered a letter to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe stating that protesters will no longer be allowed in a portion of "Corps-managed federal property north of the Cannonball River" starting December 5. The order includes the large encampment known as the Seven Council Fires camp.

"We are staying here committed to our prayer", Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, told Reuters.

"And when they moved that vehicle to the side of the road, law enforcement began arriving in heavy numbers and, basically, what ensued over the next five hours was probably one of the most brutal, unethical, unlawful attacks against non-violent protesters since the 1960s". "We have every right to be here to protect our land and to protect our water". "This will reduce the risk of harm to people in the encampments caused (by) the harsh North Dakota winter conditions". Snow and wind gusts up to 45 miles per hour (73 kph) were forecast for Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Last weekend, police used water hoses in subfreezing weather in an attempt to disperse about 400 activists near the proposed tunnel excavation site. Tribal leaders allege that police have engaged in excessive force against protesters, leading the United Nations to investigate possible human rights abuses.

"The well-being and property of ranchers, farmers and everyone else living in the region should not be threatened by protesters who are willing to commit acts of violence", Hoeven said in a statement Friday.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

That sentiment was echoed by Morton County Commission chairman Cody Schulz, who said county and state leaders have been seeking federal law enforcement help for months.

Officers were justified in using water cannons because of the threat posed by demonstrators, Fong and Herr said. Organizers said at least 17 protesters were taken to the hospital, some for hypothermia and one for a serious arm injury, and one officer was injured.

The company behind the project, Energy Transfer Partners, already won some federal permits to build the fracked oil pipeline from North Dakota to IL.

The Obama administration postponed final approval of a permit required to allow tunneling beneath the Missouri River in September.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a Tuesday news briefing that Obama believes law enforcement has "an obligation" to show restraint and protesters have a "responsibility" to protest peacefully.