CANNON BALL, N.D. — A standoff between Dakota Access pipeline opponents and law enforcement over a highway roadblock diminished Friday without incident, a marked contrast to the forced removal a day earlier of protesters occupying private property.

As many as 50 protesters gathered early in the day behind heavy plywood sheets and burned-out vehicles, facing a line of concrete barriers, military vehicles and police in riot gear. But only a handful of people, some of them observers from Amnesty International, remained by late afternoon after protest representatives told people to return to the main encampment.

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier described the protesters as “non-confrontational but uncooperative” and credited Standing Rock Sioux tribal members for helping to ease tensions. Kirchmeier said tribal representatives were allowed onto the private property to remove teepees.

The protest escalated Sunday when demonstrators set up camp on private land along the pipeline’s path that had recently been acquired by Energy Transfer Partners. More than 140 people were arrested Thursday as law enforcement, bolstered by reinforcements from several states, moved in slowly to envelop the protesters.

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