A month after an April 2016 protest that turned violent, Dakota Access has faced criticism for the way it handled the situation.
The pipeline was originally meant to carry oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale to Illinois, but it was ultimately built to carry gas from Illinois to Texas, making it a critical component of the nation’s energy grid.
Now, the company is facing renewed criticism for its response to the Dakota pipeline protest, after a video surfaced showing workers digging trenches near an encampment of protesters.
On Friday, a court ruled that the Dakota protesters can continue to camp on private land.
“It is unfortunate that the government has chosen to interfere in the peaceful assembly of protesters,” the ruling said.
“In the future, the government must refrain from interfering with the peaceful exercise of free speech, and from interfering in the free exercise of peaceful assembly by other peaceful demonstrators.”
The video shows Dakota workers digging around the encampment with a bulldozer.
The footage was captured by a man who said he was part of a protest group.
The Dakota protesters have been camped for months near the Cannonball River, and they’ve been protesting the Dakota Pipeline for weeks.
They’re trying to stop the pipeline’s completion.
Protesters have been protesting for months on private lands near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, and have been camping on private property near the Dakota Energy pipeline’s construction site for weeks, according to the Associated Press.
In the past, the group has used bulldozers to dig trenches.
Dakota officials have denied the encampments are in violation of any law.
“No peaceful assembly has ever been held on private tribal lands,” the company wrote in a statement to NBC News.
“The private property owners in question have a longstanding relationship with the Standing Rose Sioux Tribe and have expressed support for the Tribe.”
However, protesters say they’ve faced harassment and violence at the encampages and in other areas of the reservation.
A police officer who works for the state of North Dakota says that he has witnessed a number of violent incidents at the camp.
He told NBC News that a man in a black mask was in the encampe last week.
“I saw a man standing over him and punching him in the face,” he said.
According to the AP, the police officer was not directly involved in any violence, but he said he’s not surprised the police department has been less willing to intervene in the protests.
“When I see these incidents happening, I’m concerned, and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure the state and local law enforcement are doing everything they can to protect people’s rights,” the officer said.
The AP reports that in an email to NBC, Dakota spokesperson Dave Archambault II said that while the department has received complaints about trespassing and arrests, that was the result of an “ongoing investigation.”
“Dakota has been fully engaged in the investigation and review of the incident and it is expected that the appropriate action will be taken,” he wrote.