Standing Rock Protest Intensifies: Arrests & Claims of Government Abuse Over Dakota Access Pipeline

Since midsummer, thousands of Native Americans have assembled near the Missouri and Cannonball Rivers to protest the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, which local tribes say crosses their sacred sites and could threaten Standing Rock’s water supply in the event of a rupture.

Standing Rock Protests
Pipeline Protestors face off with the Police in Riot Gear near a Dakota Access construction site. CREDIT: Facebook/Rob Wilson

In July of this year, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe filed a lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that approved the pipeline project, arguing that the federal government had failed to consult with the tribe as required by federal law.

“The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is deeply concerned about the construction of a major crude-oil pipeline that passes through their ancestral lands,” reads the FAQ of the tribe’s website. “There are two broad issues. First, the pipeline would pass under the Missouri River (at Lake Oahe) just a half a mile upstream of the Tribe’s reservation boundary, where a spill would be culturally and economically catastrophic. Second, the pipeline would pass through areas of great cultural significance, such as sacred sites and burials that federal law seeks to protect.”

The protests against the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline have been increasing in size for months, but over the last couple of weeks, protests have grown tense as protestors claim militarized police forces are trying to strong arm them off their land. Local law enforcement sources claim thousands of nonnative, outside provocateurs and liberal activists have made their way into the area to cause chaos and push the protests beyond peaceful demonstrations.

In August, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple declared a state of emergency, cautioning executives at the pipeline company, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, that his administration could no longer “protect their workers adequately.”  When Protesters attempted to obstruct E.T.P.’s bulldozers on September 3rd, things started spiraling out of control and the pipeline company sent in private security forces.

Energy Transfer Partners said “assailants broke through a fence and attacked our workers,” and the sheriff’s office said four private security guards and two guard dogs were injured. Five days later, Governor Dalrymple deployed the North Dakota National Guard.

During the most recent escalation in tensions, 127 pipeline protesters were arrested, in a move condemned by the tribe as a disproportionate and unnecessary show of force by local law enforcement. Tribal leaders are calling on the US Department of Justice to intervene on behalf of the protesters. The statement below is from the Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Dave Archambault II.

The militarization of local law enforcement and enlistment of multiple law enforcements agencies from neighboring states is needlessly escalating violence and unlawful arrests against peaceful protesters at Standing Rock. We do not condone reports of illegal actions, but believe the majority of peaceful protesters are reacting to strong-arm tactics and abuses by law enforcement.

Thousands of water protectors have joined the Tribe in solidarity against DAPL, without incident or serious injury. Yet, North Dakota law enforcement have proceeded with a disproportionate response to their non-violent exercise of their First Amendment rights, even going as far as labeling them rioters and calling their every action illegal.

We are disappointed to see that our state and congressional delegations and Gov. Jack Dalrymple have failed to ensure the safety and rights of the citizens engaged in peaceful protests who were arrested on Saturday. Their lack of leadership and commitment to creating a dialogue towards a peaceful solution reflects not only the unjust historical narrative against Native Americans, but a dangerous trend in law enforcement tactics across America.

For these reasons, we believe the situation at Standing Rock deserves the immediate and full attention of the U.S. Department of Justice. Furthermore, the DOJ should impose an injunction to all developments at the pipeline site to keep ALL citizens – law enforcement and protesters—safe. The DOJ should be enlisted and expected to investigate the overwhelming reports and videos demonstrating clear strong-arm tactics, abuses and unlawful arrests by law enforcement.

Preventing government agencies from stripping protesters and tribal members of their constitutional rights to organize and protect our sacred places and water is paramount to both U.S. citizens and tribal sovereignty.

The $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile pipeline project would carry more than 470,000 barrels of crude oil daily from North Dakota’s oil fields through South Dakota and Iowa to another pipeline in Patoka, Illinois.

The North Dakota tribe has called on U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate law enforcement tactics against the self-described water activists as protests, arrests, and violence intensify.

11 Comments

  1. Paul Collins
    October 25, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    Native Americans surely have rights too in a democracy? However the Transfer Energy to Texas partnership demonstrates almost no respect towards Native American people or their sacred sites. Instead of ramming home their big money advantage and special influence with private & governmental security agencies I truely believe that this company should abandon all reckless plans to criss-cross the Missouri River with their oil pipe-lines. Show the respect that Native Americans deserve and don’t endanger clean water for a few dollars more.

    • The Truth
      October 27, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      Actually they showed lots of respect, it was the so-called native Americans who tried to extort $30 million dollars from the company, when that deal fell through they put together this phony protest.

      They actually wanted the pipeline until they realized it was being built just off their land. It has nothing to do with protecting the environment, it has to do with greed. They were greedy asked for too much money and now they are faking a protest so the company is forced to pay them millions of dollars.

      • Don
        October 28, 2016 at 5:15 pm

        Maybe you can post some evidence of this extortion

  2. B from CA
    October 25, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    Trump came out in favor of developing our own energy. If he were to balance that position by agreeing with the Natives on this one, it would go a long way to show reasonable compromise. But, since I don’t really know that much about this, someone please give me one or two reasons for going forward, other than jobs, which is great, but what about it. How safe is a pipeline through a major river. Sounds like an accident waiting to happen.

    __

    • The Truth
      October 27, 2016 at 4:54 pm

      I agree it sounds like an accident, but it was the indian who actually wanted the pipeline to go through there until they found out they weren’t going to get rich off it. They had no problem “polluting the land” until they weren’t the ones making the money doing it.

  3. moman
    October 26, 2016 at 8:43 am

    local law enforcement has no authority on native lands. they have their own police and such on these lands.

    • The Truth
      October 27, 2016 at 4:50 pm

      This isn’t actually on “Native Land” the Indians are trespassing on land that is owned by a private company. They actually wanted the pipeline until they found out they couldn’t extort 30 million dollars. Once the company pulled the pipeline form the “native land” and found a cheaper deal right next door all of a sudden they became environmentalists.

      • tacolife
        November 1, 2016 at 10:46 am

        North America is pretty much all “Native Land”, read a history book. I see your comments, and it’s saying the same shit, but you seem to have failed to even note a single source for what you are claiming. And honestly, even if what you said is even a little true, you can’t generalize what a group of people wanted before or what they want now, because a group of people have many minds which means there are diverse thought processes within that group, and to many who are actually there protesting peacefully, this protest is for the land, and it’s water, which has already been fucked long enough by greed as it is. Greed is what they fight against, for greed has caused enough problems. They won’t let their water get poisoned the way other company’s have poisoned water and land in the past, and in this case, the body of water they’re trying to protect spreads across a good portion of the country, so they’re not only looking out for “their own greedy selves”, but anyone that spends time on the land or water. Think of it this way, if one day, the river you fished in all your life, the lake you swam in as a child, part of your life and what grants life, could suddenly become untouchable. All because of a few fuck heads in suits that never experienced the earth the way many other people do were greedy. There are other ways, cleaner ways than oil.

  4. bkl
    October 26, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    These protests are not just on native lands. Much of it is privately owned or corps of engineers land that was leased by farmers. Farmers have had horse and cattle killed and the protestors have blocked major highways at times. Pipelines under rivers are not a new thing but I am not an expert in their safety. The pipeline would provide a way to transport oil other than rail. Rail transport has resulted in some accidents/fires in/near cities.

  5. Joe Allen
    October 26, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    Wow, this was written yesterday. I didn’t even know this was still going on. My news feed has been quiet on it. I think the stupid election has been overshadowing everything. They put news on the TV at work. I changed it to RT news because I’m sick of the nonstop election coverage. Here is some real news and I had no idea it was going on.

    Thank goodness for alternative media. People wouldn’t know about anything important without it.

  6. Ted
    November 2, 2016 at 8:58 am

    I’m afraid that the natives in North America have adopted the ways of the round eye…. Up here in Canada, they sell out their heritage land to the highest bidder without any concern for what’s happening to the environment. They’ve made millions up here as well, and “The Truth” is correct in saying that they become environmentalists when it’s in their best interest…. And didn’t the natives used to say, “No body owns the land…?”

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