-- Sheriffs in North Dakota have ordered dozens of "rogue" protesters to vacate property near the North Dakota Access Pipeline.
Officers met with representatives of the camp, including American Indian activist and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe member Chase Iron Eyes, according to the sheriff's department. The group was told they were criminally trespassing on private property and that they needed to leave immediately, the Morton County Sheriff's Department said in a press release Wednesday.
"In response to the actions of a rogue group of over 40 protesters who were attempting to establish another illegal camp on private property in southern Morton County, law enforcement officers warned them to vacate the area or face enforcement actions," police said.
The group was given a period of time to begin dismantling the camp and leave, but they did not show signs of vacating despite "multiple warnings," police said, adding that the group insisted they would not leave.
"This led to the decision to take action to enforce the law and evict the rogue group of protesters," the sheriff's department said.
A group of demonstrators from one of the already established protest sites attempted to set up a new camp across the road from the existing one, one of the group leaders told ABC News Wednesday. The leader said the group believed they had the rights to use the land, although it is now private property, under a 19th century treaty.
When the group did not disperse within the time allotted by police, officers moved in and arrested about 20 protesters, the group leader said. The arrests were "relatively peaceful," the leader added, saying that while national guardsmen were on the scene to assist the sheriff's office, they did not participate in the arrests.
Days after he was inaugurated, President Donald Trump signed a memorandum aimed at advancing the pipeline. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may issue an easement in the coming days, which is one of the steps necessary to proceed with the controversial pipeline, according to two Republican lawmakers.
However, recent statements from the Army and the project's opponents indicate a decision is not imminent.