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About 500 protesters gather at North Dakota capitol grounds, prompting lockdown

Protesters are seen on the south lawn of the North Dakota Capitol building on Monday, Nov. 14, in this photo taken from the 18th floor. Nick Smith / Bismarck Tribune1 / 2
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BISMARCK — About 500 Dakota Access Pipeline protesters descended on the North Dakota Capitol, prompting a “soft lockdown” of the building Monday, Nov. 14.

The lockdown protocol allowed only those with key card access into the building as North Dakota Highway Patrol officers monitored exterior doors. Anyone inside the building were allowed to leave if they chose, with State Capitol employees receiving notice of the lockdown.

The protesters — carrying signs and placards while chanting — converged on the Capitol grounds, prompting the lockdown at 11:30 a.m., the Highway Patrol said.

“Based off of past experience, that seems to be their intent, is to unlawfully gather and interrupt government functions,” said Lt. Tom Iverson of the North Dakota Highway Patrol.

Pipeline opponents have actively protested the pipeline north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation since mid-August.

Shortly after 1 p.m., protesters marched to downtown, with several walking on residential lawns and chanting “Water is life” and “Keep the oil in the soil,” until they reached the William Guy Federal Building, the Highway Patrol said in a news release.

The protesters blocked traffic in downtown Bismarck and were told they needed to return to their vehicles. Eventually, protesters returned to the Capitol, the release said.

About 50 protesters also congregated at the pipeline construction site, 4 miles south of St. Anthony, about 10:30 a.m., where pipeline security personnel instructed them to leave. Protesters left by 11 a.m.

There were no arrests at either site, the Highway Patrol said.

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