Police began forcibly evacuating anti-Dakota Access pipeline protesters from the main camp at the Standing Rock site in North Dakota on Wednesday afternoon.
The evacuation was set into motion by Republican Gov. Doug Burgum's executive order demanding that the protesters be removed from the site.
Around 2 PM CST—the initial deadline after which police threatened to arrest any remaining protesters—a group of activists voluntarily left the site, much of which was smoldering after being set on fire in what they described as a ceremony for leaving the makeshift village behind.
— Sara Sidner (@sarasidnerCNN) February 22, 2017
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) February 22, 2017
"I'm not going anywhere," protester Valerie Armstrong told CNN on Tuesday. "I carry a knife with me all the time, but I am handing that over so that I have no weapons on me. I will stay and pray, even if they come to remove us."
Just after 4 PM, a phalanx of police in riot gear began moving forward toward the last remaining protesters, threatening both activists and media alike.
It begins. At Standing Rock, police begin advancing on the media and water protectors. pic.twitter.com/4jpeBiBXrK
— Jack Smith IV (@JackSmithIV) February 22, 2017
Almost immediately, police began making arrests along the highway running alongside the Oceti Sakowin camp. It's unclear exactly how many activists remain inside the camp itself.
Independent journalist Eric Poemz filmed himself being violently arrested (jump to the last six minutes of the video).
While Gov. Burgum's order to evacuate the camp cited flooding due to warmer temperatures as the reason to vacate Oceti Sakowin, it came after executive actions by President Trump to restart stalled construction of the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline, which had been halted in the final months of the Obama administration.
For the past year, activists flocked to Standing Rock to protest the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, which they claimed threatened the land and water of the Standing Rock Sioux native tribe. During that time, local police conducted a number of dramatic raids on the protesters, resulting in hundreds of arrests and injuries.
While the standoff at the Oceti Sakowin camp appears to be nearing its end, leaders in the #NoDAPL movement have vowed to continue their efforts to stop the pipeline.
"While the camp eviction is a serious blow to the pipeline protests, from the beginning, we knew this day would come," Chase Iron Eye, lead council for the Lakota People's Law Project, explained in an email statement pledging further legal action.
"The water protectors stood bravely," Iron Eye continued. "Though our brothers and sisters are now being removed from treaty lands, I am here to tell you this fight is not over."