Last night on October 22, 2016, North Dakota police arrested 83 protestors near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. American Indian Nations are against the construction of a four-state oil pipeline that would occur under the Missouri River, which is the water source for 17 million people.
Police abuse at the protests have been reported to worsen, with a civil liberties NGO calling activists’ constitutional rights being under attack.
“In Standing Rock, the cops are out of control,” said Cooper Brinson, who is a staff attorney at Civil Liberties Defense Center. He cited accusations of humiliation, beatings by police, and unwarranted strip-searches of arrestees. He reported:
“The actions of police against the land and water protectors at Standing Rock are depraved, abusive, and disgraceful. They are exceedingly disrespectful and radically humiliating to the people who have occupied this land since time immemorial.”
Brinson also claimed that police have seized sacred tribal drums and tools that belong to Native American journalists.
The consistent increase of protestors against DAPL has pressured authorities to seek desperate and unnecessary measures, including the arrest of actor Shailene Woodley, and of Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman. The criminal charges initially given to Goodman were dismissed, however, many journalists still face charges for reporting on the DAPL protests, including four members of the Unicorn Riot media group who have been charged with misdemeanor, and three other journalists who are facing felony charges due to reporting on the protests. Emmy-winning documentarian Deia Schlosberg is one of them, and could potentially be sentenced to 45 years behind bars.
Despite the protests occurring, construction on the $3.8 billion pipeline continues. Brinson noted that 150 arrests have occurred in North Dakota, and many more have also occurred in other states, with militarized police wearing riot gear becoming increasingly common.
Guards at DAPL have been incessant about keeping people from protesting peacefully.
“The Dakota Access Pipeline guards unleash attack dogs on our American Indian water protectors. In short, on Labor Day weekend, DAPL stopped construction 25 miles away, deliberately moved heavy construction equipment to a newly reported grave site and bulldozed the surface evidence before it could be assessed by the state. Our tribes noticed and objected! They moved in without weapons urging them to stop. Can you imagine how upset our people were to see bulldozers plowing through sacred evidence that could halt this construction? DAPL was prepared for the outrage. DAPL pepper-sprayed some of the Water Protectors and some were bitten by attack dogs,” Dallas Goldtooth reported.
An incident on October 17 involved five Native American anti-pipeline activists being swarmed by extremely armed police and being threatened with arrest simply for praying by the side of the road.
Goodman interviewed water protectors (activists prefer to be called this as opposed to protestors) on Tuesday. Dave Archambault II, tribal chair of the Standing Rock Sioux, and Dr. Sara Jumping Eagle, a pediatrician and member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, reported being strip-searched as well. Jumping Eagle said she spent several hours in jail, which rose concerns over family members who couldn’t find her. She said her treatment was reminiscent to the historic mistreatment of her Native American ancestors:
“It made me feel—you know, it made me think about my ancestors and what had they gone through. And this was in no way a comparison to what we’ve survived before, so just made me feel more determined about what I’m doing and why I’m here.”
Shailene Woodley reported being strip-searched as well:
“Never did it cross my mind that while trying to protect clean water, trying to ensure a future where our children have access to an element essential for human survival, would I be strip-searched. I was just shocked.”
She also noted that it shouldn’t take the arrest of a white celebrity for attention to the situation. She said Native Americans are being ignored:
“I was in North Dakota, standing side by side with Native Americans.
You know, those who were here before us.
Well, guess what, America? They’re still here.
And they are still fighting the good fight. A fight that serves each and every one of us.”
The more than 80 protestors arrested on Oct. 22 are being held at the Morton County Law Enforcement Center. The sheriff’s office is reported to be making arrangements to transport some of the arrestees to other detention centers.
Photo Credit: MintPressNews
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