Water Protectors Blockade Highway in Bismarck, Some Charges Dropped

Bismarck-Mandan, ND – Around noon on Monday, a group of over 100 water protectors from the pipeline resistance encampments converged to blockade the Memorial Bridge, a piece of highway connecting the cities of Bismarck and Mandan.

Water protectors chanted “Mni wiconi! Water is life!” and held banners against the pipeline as motorists honked and police started to gather in the area.

After police ordered people to clear the roadway, the water protectors chose to march down Main Avenue towards Bismarck rather than remain on Memorial Bridge and risk arrest.

The march continued several blocks further until it was stopped by a large line of riot police from the North Dakota Highway Patrol, Bismarck Police Department, and other agencies.

The Bearcat and MRAP armored vehicles, now a regular feature at any #NoDAPL protest in North Dakota, were also present.

The crowd of water protectors chose to disperse and return to their vehicles rather than be arrested by the large numbers of militarized law enforcement. After the crowd of water protectors dispersed from Main Avenue the small groups of people that lingered were followed through the streets by a large cluster of riot police.

Our reporters, who were documenting this situation from a public sidewalk, were repeatedly ordered by Bismarck Police officers to move away from the positions in which they were filming, despite being nowhere near police lines.

Unicorn Riot was live for the highway blockade, the street march, and standoff that followed.

Watch the full stream below:

The crowd then reconvened at the Morton County Memorial Courthouse in Mandan, ND, where Democracy Now! journalist, Amy Goodman, had announced she would be turning herself in after the the state’s attorney of Morton County filed ‘riot’ charges against her. These charges come after charges of criminal trespass were dropped on Friday, the 14th.

The charges against journalists are nothing new, as Unicorn Riot has had four of our journalists charged with alleged criminal trespass for reporting on #NoDAPL actions.


Several water protectors who had been arrested during direct actions against DAPL so far also had court.

Law enforcement personnel from the Morton’s County Sheriff (believed to be in command), North Dakota Highway Patrol, South Dakota Highway Patrol, and various other agencies were present outside the courthouse.

Officers in riot gear were very aggressive about threatening water protectors as well as reporters with arrest if they “blocked” the alley outside the courthouse, despite police having already blocked traffic to this alley themselves.

At least one person was arrested outside the courthouse for allegedly stepping into the alley.

The crowd eventually received the news that the “engaging in a riot” charge against Amy Goodman had been refused when the Judge found there was no probable cause.

Morgan and Marcus Frejo, who had been facing felony charges based on their alleged presence at a #NoDAPL demonstration on September 3, had their charges dismissed as well.

Unicorn Riot was live from the gathering outside the Morton County Memorial Courthouse:

Unicorn Riot is actively researching the many ongoing court cases resulting from arrests of #NoDAPL water protectors in North Dakota. We will provide updated legal information as we receive it, and will continue to provide updates from the front lines.

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Here is our early summer reports of the anti-Dakota Access Pipeline struggle: March 29th, “Tribal Citizens Prepare to Blockade Bakken Oil Pipeline“; April 3rd, “Tribal Citizens Build Camp in Path of Oil Pipeline“; May 5th, “Sacred Stone Camp Resists Dakota Access Pipeline“; and May 27th, “Dakota Access Pipeline Blockade Enters 2nd Month“.

To see Unicorn Riot’s media from August until present, see below:

August 2016

September 2016

October 2016