A federal judge has denied North Dakota’s request to dismiss a lawsuit filed over the five-month closure of a section of highway during the large protests against the Dakota Access oil pipeline.
The Associated Press reported the federal lawsuit brought by members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and a reservation priest in 2018 alleges that the closure of state Highway 1806 near the pipeline route north of the reservation unduly restricted travel and commerce and violated the free speech and religious rights of them and others.
It seeks unspecified monetary damages from state officials, Morton County and TigerSwan, a North Carolina-based company that oversaw private security for the Texas-based pipeline developer, Energy Transfer Partners.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Traynor said in his 101-page ruling issued Tuesday that the state “may not have had a compelling interest in closing the road.”
Attorneys for the county and the state officials, including Republican Gov. Doug Burgum, argued in court filings that the highway shutdown was warranted because of “mayhem” caused by some of the thousands of demonstrators who gathered in the area in 2016 and early 2017 to protest the $3.8 billion pipeline, which now moves North Dakota oil to Illinois.
Source: Associated Press