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Dakota Pipeline Protestor Has Drone Shot Down
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DJI Phantom 3 quadcopter

Summary: A Dakota Access Pipeline protestor using drones to monitor the police had his drone shot down after he became a hazard to police helicopters flying in the area.

A Dakota Access Pipeline protestor is mad at police after they were forced to shoot down his drone when it nearly crashed into police helicopters twice. The FBI is investigating the incident over the North Dakota protest site.


The affidavit sworn by FBI Agent Brian VanOosbree states that the protestor is being investigated for violating a federal statute covering the damage or destruction of an aircraft. The helicopters in question were being used by law enforcement to monitor protestors. The police claim that the drone flew so close to the helicopters on more than one occasion that the pilots had to take “evasive maneuvers that would keep the two aircraft from colliding.” Once they came to the conclusion that the drone “had become a danger,” officers repeatedly attempted to shoot down the DJI Phantom 3 quadcopter.

A search warrant was issued for the contents of a Facebook profile belonging to Dean Dedman, 31. Dedman is a member of the Standing Rock Hunkpapa tribe located in South Dakota. Videos were posted to Dedman’s Facebook page showing the drone being shot at by police near the staging areas. Police hit the drone with one “non-lethal bean bag round.” Dedman can be seen holding the drone with a broken landing gear. Dedman claims that a second drone was shot down as it flew over the Dakota Access Pipeline drill pad.

The FBI believes that Dedman was using the drones so he and other protestors could see “where law enforcement is and how many police there are.” In a video, Dedman refers to police as the “true scum of the earth.”

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Dedman was fully aware of the no-fly restrictions over the protest site and drill pad. He alleges that his use of the drone is protected by the First Amendment and urges others to fight back against the Federal Aviation Administration’s flight restrictions.

The Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access Pipeline is projected to run from the Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota to the southern part of Illinois. The pipeline would travel beneath the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and under part of Lake Oahe, which is located near the Standing River Indian Reservation.

Members of the Standing Rock tribe argue that the pipeline will contaminate their water and ancient burial grounds. A survey done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found no significant impact to the areas with the projected route. The tribe tried to sue the Corps of Engineers but the motion was denied. Any sacred sites were identified during the planning of the pipeline and rerouted to avoid the sites. The Corps of Engineers also invited the tribe to be part of the assessment of the land but they refused, instead choosing “to boycott the entire process.” As far the courts are concerned, the tribe has failed to provide any proof to back up their claims. The land the pipeline travels on are privately owned lands and not part of the reservation.

Protestors had gathered at a camp established by a tribe elder. Hundreds turned out in support, turning the protest into a big party. With so many people involved to support the tribe, the camp became a hazard and police were forced to make them vacate the camp.

Do you think the pipeline is a bad or good thing? Explain your thoughts in the comments below.

To learn more about drones, read these articles:



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