Published February 8, 2017
EAGLE BUTTE, SOUTH DAKOTA – The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe reacted to the BIA police brutality captured images:
On Friday, February 3, 2017, the United States declared that it was dispatching Bureau of Indian Affairs agents to help clear water protectors from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in preparation for expected spring flooding. Additionally, the BIA indicated law enforcement was to aid in clean up efforts to camping sites in the flood plain.
Recent images of Bureau of Indian Affairs (“BIA”) agent brutality beating a water protector have emerged from the Sacred Stone Camp. Sources present at the incident indicated that BIA agents drove toward individuals with around seven (“7”) vehicles marked “BIA” and the officers identified themselves as BIA agents. Video images of the incident have been uploaded to various media and internet outlets showing water protectors being beaten with security batons in the legs until they fall. Audio from the video clearly picks up the water protectors’ screams. Once fallen, the water protectors were arrested. Link to video here: BREAKING NEWS at Standing Rock (2/4/2017) BIA Police at Sacred Stone Prayer Camp, YouTube (Feb. 5, 2017), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ycyeIvi68Y (repost of original source material).
These images are shocking and disturbing because the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has repeatedly requested BIA assistance to curtail similar violence perpetrated by North Dakota law enforcement, to no avail. Further, the purpose of BIA presence was under the pretense of providing support and to assist in camp-closing operations due to alleged dangerous spring flooding. On February 3, 2017, the United States Department of the Interior issued a News Release stating “closing of the camps is a matter of public health and safety and working together at this time will allow for the safe removal of waste and debris that will impact the local environment and protection of those camped.” The actions of law enforcement displayed on video show an outrageous and unreasonable use of force.
It is inconceivable that the federal law enforcement officers, which is tasked with maintaining the government-to-government relationship between the United States and Indian tribes, could act in such a violent manner and display such poor judgment and use of hard techniques. Litigation continues to be ongoing in this matter, and tensions continue to remain high. The BIA’s actions failed to assuage growing fears surrounding DAPL, and instead heighted concerns of water protectors. Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s primary concern is the safety of all persons involved and denounces all violence against water protectors. To that end the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe will be requesting a full investigation on the arrest and the identity of the officers.