After a day of clashes between police and demonstrators, at least 140 protesters were arrested near the Dakota Access Pipeline route last Thursday. Now some of the Native American activists arrested say they were kept in dog kennel-like enclosures and that police wrote identification numbers written on their arms.
One protest coordinator who was arrested, Mekasi Camp-Horinek, told the Los Angeles Times police wrote a number on his arm and kept him and his mother in a mesh enclosure that appeared to be a dog kennel, which did not have any bedding or furniture.
“It goes back to concentration camp days,” he told the newspaper.
Another protester posted this photo to Twitter:
The Morton County Sheriff's Department confirmed to local Fox affiliate KFYR-TV that arrested demonstrators were held in a chainlink enclosure but denied that they were dog kennels:
Temporary holding cells (chain link fences) have been installed into the Morton County Correctional Center and are used for “mass arrest” situations only. They are temporary until the Correctional Center can get them processed into our facility or transferred to another facility in North Dakota. The temporary housing units have been inspected and approved by the ND Department of Corrections which has oversight over all county correctional centers in ND.
In a separate statement released Thursday, police said the encampment, north of the main protest camp site, constituted an "illegal road block."
The protests by Native Americans, including the Standing Rock Sioux, whose reservation is close to the route of the pipeline, have been ongoing for several months. Protesters say the pipeline crosses sacred land and could endanger the drinking water supply in the area.
"We have repeatedly seen a disproportionate response from law enforcement to water protectors’ nonviolent exercise of their constitutional rights. Today we have witnessed people praying in peace, yet attacked with pepper spray, rubber bullets, sound and concussion cannons," the Standing Rock Sioux tribe said in a statement after the arrests on Thursday. "We urge state and federal government agencies to give this tense situation their immediate and close attention."
Last month, shortly after federal agencies intervened to pause construction on one part of the pipeline near Lake Oahe, protesters say 20 people were arrested in a standoff with armed riot police. The pipeline is still the subject of at least two lawsuits, and demonstrators remain at the main site of protest (south of the camp where dozens were arrested on Thursday).
The Morton County Sheriff's Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.