Water Protectors Face State and Corporate Violence 

Image via twitter

Oct 29, 2016 (NORTH DAKOTA) over the last 48 hours videos and photos have emerged revealing Great violence. People have been arrested while engaged in prayer. Native News reports that Amnesty International has sent observers. This is after the Morton Sherriffs Department used Mine Resistant Vehicles, an acoustic cannon, Humvees, snipers, tear gas and pepper spray, among other tools. 

Medics and media have been under attack. Young women have been stripped searched. Reportedly there have been serious injuries already. 

Pressure on the White House is also coming from the office of Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont. He has maintained solidarity but now has sent a long letter demanding the White House intervene. 

This is the statement from his website:

Friday, October 28, 2016

BURLINGTON, Vt., Oct. 28 — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sent a letter to President Barack Obama Friday requesting he intervene to protect Native Americans peacefully protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.

At least 140 people were arrested at the construction site in Cannon Ball, N.D., Wednesday after militarized police moved in with tanks and riot gear, using sound cannons, pepper spray and rubber bullets. Hundreds of Native American protectors have gathered at the site since April to protest the pipeline’s construction on land they claim is tribal under the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie.

“I urge you to take all appropriate measures to protect the safety of the Native Americans protesters and their supporters who have gathered peacefully to oppose the construction of the pipeline,” Sanders wrote in the letter.
Sanders asks that President Obama direct the Justice Department to send observers to the site to protect protestors’ safety and First Amendment rights; call North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple to remove the National Guard from the protest camp; and direct the Army Corps of Engineers to issue an order to stop work on construction of the pipeline near the protest site to reduce tensions while awaiting judicial action.
Sanders again called on the president to suspend construction of the pipeline until the Army Corps of Engineers completes a full cultural and environmental review.

“It is deeply distressing to me that the federal government is putting the profits of the oil industry ahead of the treaty and sovereign rights of Native American communities,” Sanders wrote. “Mr. President, you took a bold and principled stand against the Keystone pipeline – I ask you to take a similar stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline.”

Sanders previously called on the president to block construction of the pipeline during a rally outside the White House with leaders of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and other tribal nations in September.

To read the letter, click here.

For completeness, this is Secretary Clinton’s statement 

We received a letter today from representatives of the tribes protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. From the beginning of this campaign, Secretary Clinton has been clear that she thinks all voices should be heard and all views considered in federal infrastructure projects. Now, all of the parties involved—including the federal government, the pipeline company and contractors, the state of North Dakota, and the tribes—need to find a path forward that serves the broadest public interest. As that happens, it’s important that on the ground in North Dakota, everyone respects demonstrators’ rights to protest peacefully, and workers’ rights to do their jobs safely.”

The police, reinforced by officers from multiple departments, seeks to clear the way for the pipeline to be installed. The lands are ancient and covered under the Laramie treaty of 1851. They are not just ancient burial sites, but also sacred to the Lakota Sioux. This is the largest convergence of first peoples in American history. It includes first peoples from other areas of the Americas, as well as far as Australia. 

There is more. The pipeline will go under the Missouri River. If, (or rather when) it leaks, it will affect water for tje reservation, but also for millions down stream. 

First peoples have been on the front line of the battle to protect the planet. What is going on in North Dakota is a straight conflict between profit, and a western sense of wealth, and a respect for the land. We wait for the White House to act, as the President once promised. What is going on in the plains has included mass arrests, putting people reporterdly in dog kennels, and writing numbers on the arms of water protectors. It has included a dehumanizations and lack of respect for other people. 

As to the police being used to assault protesters in the name of corporations…it is not the first time. But those who forget history are watching it happen again. 


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