BISMARCK, N.D. – Reports that police in North Dakota raided and set fire to the site of a pipeline protest encampment are false, and the picture posted of burning tents is a fake, too.
Both police and a protest leader confirmed Friday that authorities never set fire to tents at the protest camp on Feb. 1. They also said that the photo of burning tents posted on some websites and shared on social media is from a 2007 HBO movie, "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee," a drama about Native Americans in the western U.S. in the 19th century. Messages left with HBO were not returned.
Snow and hay bales were digitally added to the fake photo, and it was cropped to remove an actor on a horse.
Demonstrators have gathered for several months to protest plans for the 1,200-mile Dakota Access pipeline. Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners plans to carry North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to an existing pipeline in Illinois. The proposed route skirts the Standing Rock Sioux tribe's reservation and crosses under Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota that serves as the tribe's drinking water source.
Hundreds have been arrested amid sometimes confrontational protests. But Dallas Goldtooth, a protest organizer and executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, said protesters voluntarily took down their own tents on Feb. 1. He said the only fire that day occurred when some old firewood was burned.
As for the photo? "One-hundred percent fake," Goldtooth said.
Morton County, North Dakota, Sheriff's spokesman Rob Keller confirmed the doctored photo originated from the HBO program, a photo that can be found on HBO's website.
This story is part of an ongoing Associated Press effort to fact-check claims in suspected false news stories.