Madison Ald. Rebecca Kemble, District 18, was arrested Monday during a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline near Bismarck in Morton County, North Dakota, and spent the night in jail.

She was charged with four misdemeanors including criminal trespass, engaging in a riot, resisting arrest and destruction of evidence, Morton County Sheriff's Department spokesperson Rob Keller said. Kemble was released Tuesday morning on a $1,250 bail. 

Kemble was one of 27 individuals who were arrested Monday, the Morton County Sheriff's Department reported, bringing the total number of arrests to 123 since August. Actress Shailene Woodley was also among those arrested Monday.

The department received a call Monday morning around 7 a.m. that two protesters had locked themselves to equipment southeast of St. Anthony, North Dakota and were arrested and charged with reckless endangerment, a felony, and disorder conduct, inciting a riot and criminal trespass, all misdemeanors. 

About two hours later, about 100 vehicles assembled about tow miles south of St. Anthony, forcing law enforcement to close a road, enforce lock down procedures at nearby schools and told the crowd to leave, the sheriff's department reports. After the crowd refused to leave, 24 people were arrest. 

Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney described the incident as a "riot." 

"When you have that many people engage in that kind of behavior, inciting others to break the law, cheering others on as they do break the law, refusing to leave when they are asked to leave, that’s not a protest," Laney said. 

Construction on the $3.8 million, 1,200-mile pipeline on private land began Tuesday and is about 20 miles from the Red Warrior Camp where thousands of protesters have gathered, according to The Associated Press.  Tribal leaders argue that the construction violates several federal laws, will harm water supplies and disturbs ancient sites. 

The north side alder left Sunday at noon, traveling with her husband, to the protests and was expected to return Wednesday evening. 

Kemble could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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“She had a big load of supplies to take up there, plus she was going to take the Madison statement from the City Council,” Joan Kemble, Rebecca's mother, said.

The City Council approved a resolution Sep. 20 supporting opposition to the oil pipeline because it would threaten Native American tribal lands. The pipeline was slated to be constructed near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

“She feels very strongly that (they) should have their own land and be respected,” Joan said. “I just want her to be safe. We’re very proud of her.”

Ten Dane County Sheriff's deputies also traveled to North Dakota Sunday as part of an interstate mutual aid agreement, managed by the Wisconsin Department of Emergency Management, and will be assisting in monitoring the protests for a week. 


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Abigail Becker joined The Capital Times in 2016, where she primarily covers city and county government. She previously worked for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and the Wisconsin State Journal.