Water protectors sprayed with water cannon in frigid weather near barricade.
Published November 20, 2016
by Darren Thompson
CANNONBALL, NORTH DAKOTA —Conflicts near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation heightened late Sunday evening as water protectors attempted to remove vehicles barricaded on North Dakota State Highway 1806 north of the Oceti Sakowin Camp. An organized effort of those camped in Oceti Sakowin marched towards the barricade in attempt to demonstrate military tactics used by law enforcement have gone too far. The barricade was placed by law enforcement on October 27 when more than 140 people were arrested at the 1851 Treaty Camp.
Unarmed water protectors face militarized force on Sunday evening.
Militarized law enforcement met hundreds of water protectors with the firing of tear gas grenades, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and high-powered water cannons. The use of concussion grenades and water cannons is illegal in some countries in the world and continue to be used in efforts to protect the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The use of high-powered water cannons towards hundreds of people were described by thousands of viewers and supporters as inhumane as temperatures are below freezing and hypothermia is more than likely to affect those victimized by law enforcement.
Medics at the Oceti Sakowin camp have shared that it could only take several minutes for hypothermia to set in and with no direct route for emergency medical services due to the barricade, law enforcement continues to cause chaos and fear into those protesting the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“The Morton County Police are well aware that the temperature is below freezing,” said Oceti Sakowin Camp Medic and Standing Rock Tribal Member Linda Black Elk. “Yet they use high-powered water cannons against hundreds of water protectors who are saying ‘enough is enough with the militarization of law enforcement’ causing a state of emergency among unarmed civilians.”
As live video streams were broadcast via social media, viewers could see and hear shots being constantly fired at crowds creating another scene described as a war zone since protests have heightened in early August.
Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline is nearly complete except for the drilling under the Missouri River several miles north of the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation. With the Army Corps of Engineers voicing that the easement to drill under the Missouri River will not be approved anytime soon, the Dakota Access Pipeline continues to transport drill equipment to the construction site in an effort to progress towards completing construction regardless of approval.
“We are all in disbelief in how the State of North Dakota continues to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to be constructed while hundreds of people continue to be mistreated,” continued Black Elk. “When will mistreatment stop?”
Darren Thompson (Ojibwe/Tohono O’odham) is a Native American flute player and writer from the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe Reservation in Northern Wisconsin. He contributes to Native Peoples Magazine, Native News Online and Powwows.com. For more information please visit www.darrenthompson.net