The ongoing battle over the North Dakota pipeline has lead to an increased hostile environment. In recent news, North Dakota police have surrounded Native Americans with military-style equipment as they gathered in prayer in opposition of the construction this past Wednesday.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, among many other supporting tribes from across the U.S., Canada, and Latin America, as well as supporting communities at large, have been gathered at the construction site in resistance for months. They view the pipeline as a destruction of sacred and treaty-protected land, ultimately harming their livelihood.
The protest has halted what could have been a swift plan to implement a 1,170 mile oil pipeline, and instead, caused a national uproar over environmental and moral concerns that a leak or spill could be ruinous, while exposing the arrogance and greed of those behind the Dakota Access pipeline.
“ND authorities deploy armed personnel with shotguns and assault rifles, military vehicles, and aerial spray on peaceful Water Protectors gathered in prayer,” explained the Sacred Stone Camp.
The protestors have been met with intense threats in the form of military-style armored vehicles and shotguns for defending the Missouri River. At least 21 were arrested as a result.
A Sicangu Lakota grandmother opened up about the unfortunate event on Wednesday, saying:
“We had a really nice ceremony. And then we looked, and over that way, and the police—there was a few police. And the next thing I knew, there were like 40 police, and they were all dressed in riot gear. We did exactly what we were told to do, except the ones who were in the road, just to tell everybody, ‘Keep moving. Keep moving. Keep moving.’ And I’ve never in my life seen a gun in real life. And I’ve never had a gun pointed at me. And we all went—I went into shock.”
And one participant, Thomas H. Joseph II, posted a disturbing video exposing the happenings. Narrating the situation, he explains that helicopters have dropped tear gas, while an officer is seen loading his gun amongst protestors chanting, “We have no guns.”
Joseph says that “one guy’s about ready to blast us,” though he later explained that no fires were shot.
Later in a Facebook post, he said: “We gathered in prayer un-armed, prayed, sang songs, and attempted to leave. No threats, No vandalism, No violence was taken on our part.”
The protestors have witnessed police and private security personnel becoming increasingly aggressive as a result of the governor declaring a state of emergency. Currently, the state is investigating contracted private security company Frost Kennels unleashing dogs on the protestors, which resulted in six people getting bitten, including a pregnant woman and a child.
Upon posting a video of the situation, alternative media outlet Unicorn Riot received a popup security alert, which they believe is Facebook’s way of censoring its livestream of the police cruelty.
“We will not let them stop our mission to amplify the voices of people who might otherwise go unheard, and broadcast the stories that might otherwise go untold,” they said.
As of yet, several lawsuits are pending against the company who is expected to transport more than half a million barrels of oil a day through four states. On Monday, President Barack Obama met with tribal representatives, though he simply made a roundabout acknowledgment to the historic native gathering, saying: “I know that many of you have come together across tribes and across the country to support the community at Standing Rock. And together, you’re making your voices heard.”
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