Dakota Access protests expose raw divisions and emotions in North Dakota Dakota Access protests expose raw divisions and emotions in North Dakota

Dakota Access protests expose raw divisions and emotions in North Dakota

As the battle over the Dakota Access pipeline intensified, Kirk and Lisa Wilson found themselves getting more angry and more annoyed — especially at the thousands of protesters who traveled to North Dakota from distant cities to confront local and state police.

“Don’t like it in the slightest,” said Kirk Wilson of the ongoing battle between protesters and North Dakota police over the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile oil pipeline.

And so on a mild, windy Sunday morning in late November, the couple drove to a highway bridge spanning the towns of Bismarck and Mandan.

“We’re here to support the blue,” said Wilson, joining about a 1,000 others cheering, hollering, waving American flags and holding placards reading “Back the Blue.”

“They protect us, they keep us safe, and they make sure we go home at night,” Wilson added.

Another sign seemed to capture a sentiment felt by many in the state: “It’s Times to Take Our Great State and Communities Back.”

Cars whizzed past, drivers blaring their horns and whooping in support. Below the bridge, the Missouri River flowed south, toward the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and the intensifying pipeline protests that have resulted in more than 500 arrests since August.

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