North Dakota law enforcement officials are investigating a dead body found in the Cannonball River near a campsite used to protest the now completed Dakota Access Pipeline.
Local fishermen found the body of Damjan Nedelkovski floating in a river Sunday morning near the primary campsite holding anti-DAPL protesters. He was a California resident known to frequent protest camps in the area, according to a press statement issued Monday by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department.
An autopsy showed no blunt trauma to the body, and officials are not certain how long he was in the water. Family and friends, meanwhile, told local officials they last had contact with Nedelkovski in October 29, 2016. His stepbrother filed a missing person report in November.
Anti-DAPL activists and Standing Rock Sioux members believe the line’s construction would trample on tribal lands and potentially poison Lake Oahe. The pipeline’s opponents continue to say the protests are largely peaceful and nonviolent.
Local officials argue the demonstration were violent enough to warrant task force help. Former GOP North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, for instance, asked Wyoming Highway Patrol earlier this year to send riot squads and cops with active shooter training to suppress violent anti-pipeline protests, according to documents obtained by a media advocacy group.
He wanted help dealing with “civil unrest” and “criminal activities” related to the protests, according to public records communications obtained in February by Muck Rock.
The North Dakota Republican asked his Wyoming counterpart in a Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) request to send 40 officers to Morton County for assistance quelling what he deemed increasingly violent protests. An EMAC allows states to share valuable resources during emergency situations.
The demonstrations resulted in significant damage to private property, as well as numerous acts of lawlessness.
Morton County officials believe 94 percent of the 709 arrests at the Oceti and Sacred Campsites were of people from outside of North Dakota. Officials also said 221 of those apprehended had prior criminal records.
The protests also created significant property damage. More than 544 households reported losses ranging from $15,000 to $20,000 each from crop losses. The total equates to over $8 million in total losses.