Protest highway shutdown lawsuit claims include extortion
By BLAKE NICHOLSON
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Standing Rock Sioux tribal members and others who are suing over a five-month shutdown of a North Dakota highway during protests against the Dakota Access oil pipeline have broadened their claims against state and county officials.
They now allege the closure of a stretch of state Highway 1806 outside protest camps in 2016 and 2017 was not only aimed at protesters but also at influencing the tribe's position on the camps and the media's coverage of the prolonged clash.
They seek unspecified money damages for alleged violations of their rights.
Authorities argue they had not only the authority to shut down the highway but also an obligation to do so in the interest of public safety. County attorney Randall Bakke (BAW'-kee) says there's no basis for the new claims.
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