Actress Shailene Woodley arrested at North Dakota pipeline protest

By Dan Whitcomb
Reuters

By Dan Whitcomb

(Reuters) - Actress Shailene Woodley was arrested in North Dakota on Monday while protesting a planned pipeline that Native Americans say will desecrate sacred land and damage the environment, an incident that was live streamed on Facebook.

The 24-year-old actress was taken into custody shortly after noon local time with 27 other people on misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass and engaging in a riot, said Rob Keller, spokesman for the Morton County Sheriff's Office.

He said it was unclear if Woodley remained in custody later on Monday afternoon or had been released on bond. The protests were taking place at a construction site for the pipeline about 2 miles (3.2 km) south of the town of St. Anthony.

Woodley, who had been broadcasting the event on Facebook Live, was seen being taken into custody and narrated her own arrest, saying she had been heading peacefully back to her vehicle when "they grabbed me by my jacket and said that I wasn't allowed to continue ... and they have giant guns and batons and zip ties and they are not letting me go."

As she was led away in handcuffs, Woodley said on the video she was among hundreds of protesters but was singled out "because I'm well known, because I have 40,000 people watching."

Keller said that Woodley was among the last arrested and was taken into custody after she left the private property.

Woodley, who aside from her acting is known for her environmental activism, has previously joined members of North Dakota's Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to protest against the proposed construction of the $3.7 billion project.

Earlier this year she co-starred in the film "Snowden" as Lindsay Mills, girlfriend of the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked details about the U.S. government's massive surveillance programs and was granted asylum in Russia after fleeing the United States in 2013.

The 1,100-mile (1770-km) pipeline, being built by a group of companies led by Energy Transfer Partners LP, would be the first to bring Bakken shale from North Dakota directly to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The group behind the pipeline, called Dakota Access, had planned to start operations in the fourth quarter of this year, but construction has been hampered by demonstrations.

On Sunday, a federal court rejected a request by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to halt construction of the Dakota Access pipeline but said that ruling was not the final word as a necessary easement still needed government approval.

On Monday, the Department of Justice, U.S. Army and Department of the Interior said that the Army, in the interim, will not authorize construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe.

The tribe believes the pipeline would leave its land vulnerable to contamination from oil spills and would damage historic and culturally significant sites.

Supporters say it would provide a safer and more cost-effective way to transport Bakken shale to the U.S. Gulf than by road or rail.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Lisa Shumaker)