Daily Activity

This is preliminary information to provide a general timeline & summary of protest activity.


The Fischer buffalo auction was held in Selfridge and no problems were encountered.

No significant protest activity occurred.


Significant protest activity as approximately 50 protesters were at the Backwater Bridge removing the security wire from the barricade on the north end of the bridge. Keep reading for more details.


No significant activity occurred.


Approximately 30 protesters staged a demonstration outside the Federal Courthouse in Bismarck from approximately 1:30 – 2:30 pm.  The demonstration was related to a grand jury session concerning Sophia Wilansky who suffered an arm injury during the protest on the Backwater Bridge which began the night of November 20th, 2016.  No problems were encountered during the demonstration.

No other significant activity occurred.


At approximately 2:45 pm, a group of 8 protesters went onto the Backwater Bridge and tampered with the security wire at the barricade on the north end of the bridge.  After about 15 minutes, the protesters left the bridge and returned to the camp.  No significant damage was done to the security wire.

No other significant activity occurred.


No significant protest activity occurred.  A snowstorm began late in the day on January 1 and continued throughout January 2nd.  A total of approximately 8 inches of snow accumulated in the Bismarck/Mandan area with total snowfall for the winter now at approximately 50 inches.  Temperatures fell with highs to be around zero for most of the coming week with wind chills to be as low as 40 below zero during the nights.  


The incident which began at approximately midnight on the 31st continued.  A group of approximately 6 protesters cut and removed a section of the security wire at the top of Turtle Hill and shut off one of the lighting units at the top of the hill.  The protesters fled as law enforcement arrived on scene.  Protesters also damaged some of the security wire on the Backwater Bridge barricade. Protesters were shining a green laser at the NDHP plane flying over the area. At approximately 3:15 am the protesters had dispersed and no further significant protest activity occurred. No arrests were made.


At approximately 10:00 pm, protesters lit a fire on Turtle Island and a second fire was lit later.  The number of protesters at the Island continued to grow and approximately 11:00 pm, protesters began to climb Turtle Hill.  At approximately 11:05 pm, the first protester arrived at the top of the hill and by 11:30 there were approximately 30 on top of the hill and approximately 50 at the base of the hill.  At midnight, there were approximately 75 protesters at the top of the hill and approximately 100 in the area of the base of the hill and island.  Law enforcement reported that many protesters were seen with knives and slingshots.  Protesters were also shooting fireworks in the direction of law enforcement officers. 

Another group of approximately 15 protesters was present on the Backwater Bridge.


One female arrested for trespass after crossing the fence onto private property near the intersection of County Rd 135/County Rd 80 where law enforcement were present.  There were approximately 15 in the group she was with.


At approximately 3:20 pm, protesters cut the light tower support cable, causing the tower to fall, and the surveillance camera was stolen from the tower pole.

There were small groups on the bridge most of the afternoon, and also near Turtle Hill.  These groups tampered with and cut some of the security wire at the bridge and on Turtle Hill.


Approximately 20 protestors were at the Morton County courthouse standing in the hallway outside of the courtroom for most of the afternoon.  No significant problems were encountered with this group.


Approximately 30-40 protesters went onto the Backwater Bridge.  Some in this group did some minor damage to the light plants at the bridge by breaking the keys in the switches. 

Five protestors climbed to the top of Turtle Hill and were arrested for trespass.  As a result of these arrests, approximately 30 protesters responded to the area but no additional arrests occurred.

Protesters stole the large “No Trespassing” sign from the barricade area on the Backwater Bridge.


Blizzard conditions continued until late afternoon.  Snow plowing efforts were underway but due to the snowfall amounts and drifting, progress was extremely slow. 


A severe blizzard occurred with snowfall amounts of approximately 12 inches in the Bismarck/Mandan area accompanied by winds 30-40 mph with higher gusts.


No significant events occurred.


No significant events occurred.


The ND Dept. of Transportation obtained core samples from the Backwater Bridge in the morning in order to make a determination as to the extent of the repairs needed to the bridge.  Results of the testing of the samples could take up to 30 days.  The burnt and damaged vehicles were also removed from the area of the bridge during the operation which was completed at approximately noon. 

There was no protester activity during the operation on the bridge and no other significant events occurred during the day.


No significant events occurred.


There was no significant protester activity.

The first trial of protesters charged for criminal activity related to the DAPL protests was held in Morton County and resulted in convictions.   Benjamin Schapiro, 30, of Ohio, and Steven Voliva, 62, of Washington were arrested Sept. 27 and accused of blocking a highway to allow a caravan of protesters to proceed. A jury convicted the men of obstructing a highway and disorderly conduct.


At approximately 3:50 am, a protester trespassed onto Turtle Hill and was taken into custody by law enforcement.  The subject arrested is a Jake Atkinson who has pending charges for engaging in a riot and disorderly conduct. Keep reading for more details.