© Brian Cahn via ZUMA/dpa
Washington (dpa) – Criminal charges were filed Wednesday against the US Green Party’s presidential nominee, who spray-painted a bulldozer during a protest against the construction of an oil pipeline.
Jill Stein, whose national support is in the low single digits in all major voter surveys, was charged with criminal trespass and criminal mischief, both misdemeanors, the sheriff’s department in the North Dakota county where the protest occurred Tuesday said on its Facebook page.
Stein admitted to spray-painting the bulldozer with the words “I approve this message” in red during the demonstration on Tuesday. Political candidates in the US must use the words to make clear which campaign advertisements are theirs.
Stein said construction of the pipeline amounted to desecrating ancestral burial sites of the Standing Rock Sioux nation.
The Morton County Sheriff’s Department filed the same charges against Stein’s running mate, Ajamu Baraka. The county is west of the state capital, Bismarck.
Stein, who has a history of environmental activism, was in North Dakota as part of a group of 150 to 200 people who protested Tuesday against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Bismarck Tribune newspaper said.
Energy Transfer Partners, the project developer, is building a pipeline linking a large shale oil deposit in North Dakota with oil refineries on the Gulf Coast.
The construction site was the scene of a tense standoff over the weekend, according to the newspaper. Several dozen police officers pulled back after determining it was not safe to respond.
According to local media reports the protesters, some on horse back, assembled Tuesday at the site carrying hatchets and knives and wearing masks and goggles.