COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Police shut down Broad at 3rd for more than an hour after a protester parked a “No DAPL” van in the intersection and then chained himself underneath the vehicle.
It happened around 11:45am this morning during a scheduled protest by the Solidarity with Standing Rock Water Protectors near the Ohio Statehouse. The group was protesting the state of Ohio for sending OSP troopers to North Dakota.
The group then marched to the intersection of Broad & 3rd. That’s when one protester drove a minivan into the intersection, got out of the vehicle and secured himself to the rear axle of the van.
Police, fire, homeland security and dozens of officers responded to the scene. They brought in bomb-sniffing dogs as a precaution and after clearing the vehicle, worked to free the man using a special saw.
Officers say the protester, identified as Peter Gibbons-Ballew, 34, had a pipe handcuffed to him and locked himself to the van that way. They had to cut the van to get him out, and he still had the pipe locked to him when they left the scene.
When police finally pulled Gibbons-Ballew out from under the vehicle, he began shouting “water is Life.” He now faces misdemeanor charges of inducing panic, disorderly conduct, hindering & failure to comply.
“There’s a peaceful way to protest and we encourage that we actually have liaison officers available to talk to the groups to assist them. That’s not what happened today,” said Columbus Division of Police Sgt. Rich Weiner. “This tied up major resources within the city. It’s irresponsible.”
The roads reopened around 1pm.
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The protest is just one of several nationwide against the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline. The company building pipeline is seeking a federal court’s permission to lay pipe under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota and finish the four-state project.
The Army Corps of Engineers on Monday called for more study and input from the Standing Rock Sioux before it decides whether to allow the pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe. The 1,200-mile pipeline that’s to carry North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois is largely complete except for that stretch, which will skirt the tribe’s reservation. The tribe says the pipeline threatens drinking water and cultural sites.
Protesters say Gibbons-Ballew’s actions in Columbus were necessary to bring attention to this issue.
“Most of these people have gone through every legal means every normal way to get this changed to get this stopped and there’s no luck,” Harding said.
“I think blocking traffic for I don’t know an hour to three hours that’s nothing compared to the hundreds of people that have been arrested in North Dakota who are literally defending land that is rightfully theirs,” said Prince Shakur.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.