North Dakota police with
military-style equipment surrounded Native Americans gathered in
prayer against the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline on
Wednesday, disrupting their plan to cross sacred and treaty-protected
land in protest of a project they fear will destroy their livelihood.
“ND authorities deploy
armed personnel with shotguns and assault rifles, military vehicles,
and aerial spray on peaceful Water Protectors gathered in prayer,”
wrote the Sacred Stone Camp, in a Facebook post.
military-style armored vehicles and shotguns threatened the
protesters, who call themselves “water protectors” for defending
the Missouri River from imminent pollution, reported Unicorn Riot. Up
to 21 were arrested, the channel reported.
Witnesses filmed the
crackdown but said their access their Facebook was blocked. One
participant, Thomas H. Joseph II, posted a chilling video narrating
the mobilization and his getaway. Helicopters are heard as he says
that tear gas is being dropped, and an officer loads his gun as
protesters, some on horseback, chant, "We have no guns."
In the video, Joseph said
that “one guy’s about ready to blast us” but later added that
no fires were shot
“We gathered in prayer
un-armed, prayed, sang songs, and attempted to leave," he later
wrote in a Facebook post. "No threats, No vandalism, No violence
was taken on our part.”
Police and private
security personnel have been more aggressively cracking down on
actions against the pipeline since the governor declared a state of
emergency. The state is currently investigating an incident in which
contracted private security film Frost Kennels unleashed dogs during
a nonviolent direct action, ending with six bitten, including a
pregnant woman and a child, according to organizers at the action.
Alternative media outlet
Unicorn Riot previously accused Facebook of censoring its livestream
of police repression, saying they received a popup security alert
when they tried to post the video.
Over 1,200 Academics Sign
Petition Against Dakota Pipeline
“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 told RT.
The pipeline, expected to
transport over half a million barrels of oil a day through four
states, has united over 300 tribes in resistance. Several lawsuits
are pending against the company, which has retaliated with
restraining orders. The White House halted construction on federal
land, which makes up three percent of the pipeline's path, but has
not issued any other statement against the pipeline—motivating
Facebook users to demand a response after Wednesday's crackdown.
President Barack Obama
met with tribal representatives on Monday but only made an indirect
reference to the historic native gathering: “I know that many of
you have come together across tribes and across the country to
support the community at Standing Rock,“ he said. “And together,
you’re making your voices heard.“
A prior version of this
article described the Sacred Stone Camp as the main tribal-led camp.
This is not correct. The Oceti Sakowin is the main tribal-led camp.
This article was first
published Sept. 28. Updated Sept. 28, 2016 at 8:24 p.m