About 15 protesters were arrested Friday after they blocked an access road to Mount Rushmore hours beforePresident Trumpwas scheduled to give remarks to kick off Independence Day weekend.
According to the Associated Press, the protest group was mostly made up of Native Americans protesting that South Dakota’s Black Hills were taken from the Lakota people against treaty agreements.
Sheriff’s deputies and National Guard troops confront protesters near Mount Rushmore, S.D.
One group parked three vans across the road and removed the tires from two of the vehicles to make it more difficult to remove them. Several demonstrators climbed on top of the vans chanting “Land back!”
The sheriff’s office said attendees had been told to arrive early and should have been past the roadblock by the time the standoff began. However, the Rapid City Journal reported that some motorists who had tickets for Friday evening’s fireworks show were unable to get through the protests and were standing by their cars watching the standoff.
The Journal also reported that law enforcement in riot gear as well as members of the National Guard had declared an unlawful assembly.
Police later used pepper spray on several protesters to break up the standoff and tow trucks were brought in to remove the vans blocking the road. Arrests were made after protesters ignored a police-imposed deadline to leave.
The Journal reported that the lower bowl of the amptheater where Trump was scheduled to speak at approximately 8:50 p.m. local time was full, but there were many empty seats in the upper level.
President Trump has been outspoken against recent protests across America that have targeted historical monuments and statues demonstrators feel represent a pattern of systematic racism in the U.S.
Sources confirmed for Fox News earlier Friday that Trump planned on addressing the “totalitarian behavior that is completely alien to American life” and the “cancel culture” he believes is being pushed by the left.
He is also expected to emphasize America’s history as a “great and virtuous country.”
“You can expect the president to express strong support for America’s military, the men and women of our police, and so many of our cherished principles and institutions that are under attack daily from the left,” a senior administration official told Fox News in a statement Friday evening.
The Associated Press and Fox News’ John Roberts contributed to this report.
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