The Vice President of the company behind the Dakota Access pipeline has compared protestors to terrorists.
Texas-based Energy Transfer’s Joey Mahmoud says protesters have “assaulted numerous pipeline personnel,” destroyed millions of dollars’ worth of construction equipment and even fired a pistol at police during months of demonstrations against the 1,200-mile pipeline.
Mr Mahmoud said: “Protests induced individuals to break into and shut down pump stations on four operational pipelines. Had these actions been undertaken by foreign nationals, they could only be described as acts of terrorism.”
Harold Frazier, Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux, one of the two tribes suing to stop the project, disagreed.
He said: “The majority of them are there in prayer. From what I’ve seen (law enforcement officers) are the terrorists.”
During the course of the demonstrations police have used tactics such as rubber bullets, tear gas and riot hoses against protesters in clashes near the pipeline route – Mr Frazier added that he had been personally hit by rubber bullets and tear gas.
US President Donald Trump signed executive orders to advance the construction of the controversial oil pipeline.