UPDATE: As of 8 p.m., Highway 32 is open again between St. Hilaire and Thief River Falls.
PENNINGTON COUNTY, Minn. — An 8-mile portion of Highway 32 in Minnesota between St. Hilaire and Thief River Falls has been closed, as law enforcement officials say conditions there are unsafe for gathered oil pipeline protesters, and vehicles driving along the road.
According to a release from the Pennington County Sheriff's Office, Minnesota State Police asked the Department of Transportation to close the highway between County Road 7 and County Road 3. The section of highway was closed at 11 a.m. Friday, July 23. It will remain closed until further notice.
“The area has become extremely congested with people, campsites and many cars parked near the roadway,” reads part of the release. “As a result, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ensure the safety of protestors and the traveling public. People in the area along (Highway) 32 will be permitted to leave the site, and residents of the area will be allowed access to their homes.”
State police and local law enforcement officers are in the area to enforce the road closure. Drivers are being asked to use County Road 17, to the west of the highway, as a detour. People in the area will be allowed to leave, and residents will be allowed to access their homes.
According to the release, MnDOT and the State Patrol remain in contact with Red Lake Nation tribal leadership, local law enforcement and other partners to evaluate the situation and determine when the road closure will be lifted.