Eugene lawyer takes a stand, files suit against North Dakota police agencies

In this image provided by Morton County Sheriff?s Department, law enforcement and protesters clash near the site of the Dakota Access pipeline on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Cannon Ball, N.D. The clash came as protesters sought to push past a bridge on a state highway that had been blockaded since late October, according to the Morton County Sheriff's Office. (Morton County Sheriff?s Department via AP)

EUGENE, Ore. – The Army Corps of Engineers says it will force protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline to vacate the area Friday.

But in an effort to stand up against law enforcement, a Eugene attorney recently filed a suit against the police agencies in North Dakota since things have become so violent.

The Civil Liberties Defense Center in Eugene said things escalated in North Dakota on Nov. 20. That’s when officers used tear gas, rubber bullets and fire hoses on protesters.

The lawyer said the support from Oregon to North Dakota is immense.

“There probably have been thousands of Oregonians that have gone out to Standing Rock,” said Lauren Regan, executive director with the Civil Liberties Defense Center.

Regan is part of the larger Water Protector Legal Collective. She just filed suit against several North Dakota law enforcement agencies and the physical actions they are taking against protesters.

“Water cannons in North Dakota, where it's about 9 degrees, are literally a potentially deadly weapon,” Regan said.

She said more than 300 people were hurt or became sick afterwards.

The lawsuit calls on the court for a temporary restraining order against police.

“12,000 people, mostly of indigenous origin, who are attempting to protect drinking water in their communities,” Regan said.

The agencies listed in the suit are outspoken, saying they reject the allegations.

In the meantime, the CEO of the company building the pipeline is also weighing in, trying to convince protesters the pipeline will be safe.

“This pipeline is being built where two existing pipelines exist today, that were built through your state in 1982. We've not disturbed any historical sites,” said Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners.

Authorities say they will continue to enforce the law and “urge those lawful protesters to isolate those who are unlawful.”

“We'll see what the next phase looks like. Every day things change there,” Regan said.

The suit is just one of four filed by the national Water Protector Legal Collective.

Two were already filed. Another two will be filed soon.

Watch the full interview with Lauren Regan:

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