Police have arrested dozens as protesters attempted to occupy the Department of the Interior by storming the building as part of the demonstrations against the Biden administration’s decision not to end contracts for the oil pipeline.
The Washington Examiner reported that police made arrests of members of the group People vs. Fossil Fuels on Thursday as they attempted to take the Stewart Lee Udall Main Interior Building in Washington, D.C.
Federal Protective Service personnel were called to “mitigate the situation,” according to a statement from the agency and video from the crowd of protesters show show members of the protest on the steps of the building and attempting to breach the doors.
The organization said in their statement that “55 Indigenous people were arrested; police tased and hit multiple people with batons.” Additionally, it was reported that at least one officer went to the hospital due to injuries sustained during the interaction.
“Multiple injuries were sustained by security personnel, and one officer has been transported to a nearby hospital,” said Interior Department spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz. “Medics representing both the Department and the protesters were present.”
“Federal Protective Service personnel responded to the area to mitigate the situation,” Schwartz continued. “Centering the voices of lawful protesters is and will continue to be an important foundation of our democracy. It is also our obligation to keep everyone safe. We will continue to do everything we can to de-escalate while honoring first amendment rights.”
As for the protesters, they said of the protest in their statement that the event was the “first occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs by Indigenous peoples since the 1970s.” Journalist Andy Ngo reportedly called the scene “reminiscent of Jan. 6.”
“We will no longer allow the U.S. government to separate us from our relationship to the sacred knowledge of Mother Earth and all who depend on her […] We will not back down until our natural balance is restored,” they wrote.