Several Mandan streets were closed down today as a large group of people rallied in front of the Morton County Courthouse.
There were well over a hundred people voicing their support for a woman who was arrested in connection with a Dakota Access Pipeline.
While this effort was growing outside — inside — law enforcement announced a new task force designed to investigate perhaps the most notorious pipeline protests in recent weeks.
They sing songs, beat their drums, and made their collective voice heard.
Their audience is a line of law enforcement dressed in riot gear.
“Again we’re just trying to show our support. for Olowan. Maybe some songs, maybe some words. That threatens them. So they met us with that kind of attitude. How do you think we feel now?”
Redboy Means is here to support a fellow South Dakotan.
Olowan Martinez was arrested for criminal tress pass while protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“Everybody want’s to let her know that we support exactly what she did, what she’s doing, what she’s going through, and that we’re here for her and praying for her,” says Means
Morton Counties Sheriff Kirchmeier says right now, she’s not being held for that crime.
“Those charges she has bonded out from that. There are active felony warrants out of Nebraska for her. She is being held upon extradition to Nebraska,”
While this protest formed outside the Morton County Courthouse,
Kirchmeier was inside announcing a law enforcement task force.
The sole purpose is to investigate the moment the Pipeline Protests turned violent.
“There’s been allegations on both sides, from the protestors, and from the pipeline personnel about what happened there,” says Kirchmeier
On September 3rd, protesters and private security clashed.
Hundreds crossed onto private property after pipeline workers bulldozed what native Americans say were sacred areas.
Injuries were reported on both sides.
Kirchmeier says the task force will also investigate the use of dogs by private security.
The task force will have four people from the Morton and Mercer County Sheriff’s Departments, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
It’s been seventeen days since this incident happened.
Sheriff Kirchmeier says it took some time to gather enough information to move forward.
He says the task force will give no bias to either side.