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Standing Rock Sioux say they don't want protestors forcibly removed

By Brooks Hays
Police and protesters clashed on the Backwater Bridge, north of a protest camp in North Dakota's Morton County on November 20, 2016. Police said about 400 protesters attempted to breach the bridge, which was blocked since late October, near the site of the Dakota Access pipeline. Photo courtesy of Morton County Sheriff's Department
Police and protesters clashed on the Backwater Bridge, north of a protest camp in North Dakota's Morton County on November 20, 2016. Police said about 400 protesters attempted to breach the bridge, which was blocked since late October, near the site of the Dakota Access pipeline. Photo courtesy of Morton County Sheriff's Department

Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Standing Rock Sioux officials say they want protestors to leave the Dakota Access Pipeline protest site, but they don't want protestors forcibly removed.

On Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued an evacuation order for Oceti Sakowin Camp, where protestors have been gathered for several months. The land, which is controlled by the Corps, is low-lying and situated at the confluence of Missouri and Cannonball Rivers, making it susceptible to flooding.

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"As stewards of the public lands and natural resources, we have a responsibility to the public to prevent injuries and loss of life," U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District Commander, Col. John Henderson, said in a statement. "We must also ensure our precious water resources are free from pollution due to human activities and respect for all who rely on this water for their livelihoods."

Tribal officials have been working with federal officials to find a way to clean the protest camp, but say they don't support raids by law enforcement.

"We have not asked for law enforcement to assist in clearing camps and in fact have repeatedly told them there will be no forcible removal," Standing Rock Sioux wrote on Facebook.

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Trump has urged the Army Corps to expedite their review of Energy Transfer Partners' application for completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Should an easement for completion of the pipeline be granted, Standing Rock Sioux and their allies have vowed to continue their legal fight against DAPL.

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