For the past several months, news reports have been full of stories about the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). All of us have seen the protestors gathering, the atrocities committed by the police, National Guard and a security firm on those same protestors, and even a few familiar faces among the protestors.
Despite a recent request by the Army Corps of Engineers for a stop on building the pipeline while they investigate claims on the environment, and in particular on Reservation land, this issues seems far from over. With this issue still making headlines, I felt like it was high time I went back and reviewed what has happened so far. Having the story condensed into a series of posts may spur on more people to keep up the fight for clean water, and open a few more eyes to what these protestors have endured already in a country we are constantly touting as “free” for all citizens.
In a time where the recent election of Trump has brought a lot of hidden racism and bigotry to the forefront, we need to support these Standing Rock Sioux more than ever. Our past is laden with atrocities toward people of any color (including, but by no means limited to, Native Americans). It’s time to put an end to that. Hopefully, Standing Rock will become a defining moment in our history, a point where we can look back and realize this was one of those moments where we as US citizens all stood together for something important. If enough of us join together for this cause, maybe our future can be something we can all look forward to, rather than just more of a past we are ashamed of.
The National Guard Helps Clear a Protest Camp
On October 27th, more than 300 police, including state troopers and National Guard members, removed a blockade on Hwy 1806 and a camp nearby. According to Lynda Mapes (in the video below), a reporter for the Seattle Times, the police were advancing on the protestors with armored personnel carriers, concussion grenades, mace, tasers and batons. Using all of the above against the protestors, the standoff ended a day later with an elder stating that the protestors should go home, as they were not there to fight the police, they are there to protest the pipeline.
Also in the video, the interviewer, William Brangham, makes a comparison to the same-day protest of the takeover of the Wildlife Refuge in Oregon by a group of white militia men armed with assault weapons. While those men have been freed, the many protestors that have been arrested at Standing Rock remain under arrest, which should give many of us at least a moment of pause.
Interestingly, the video (posted by PBS Newshour here) has been removed from youTube, although it’s still available on the PBS website.
Police Use Water Cannons (and more) in freezing temperatures
On November 20, 2016, protestors attempted to move a blockade on Backwater Bridge on Highway 1806. They were met with force by police.
According to a medic on site, police were attacking protestors with water cannons (the temperature was below freezing at the time). They aimed at people’s hands and other exposed areas. Also, tear gas was used in extremes, creating huge clouds of gas. And, despite what they are taught, the police were shooting rubber bullets at the heads of the protestors, which could result in death.
The video is disturbing, and isn’t for all audiences.