Hilary Beaumont of Vice News reports on the arrival of several hundred US military veterans at the Sacred Stone protest camp in the Cannon Ball area of North Dakota, location of the Standing Rock Native American Reservation, where thousands of people are demonstrating against the construction of the contentious Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
“By Sunday, camp organizers say, about 2,000 vets will be on site.
“Our goal is to stand there and if need be take the rounds for the First Nations people so they can do their thing,” said Mark Sanderson, a former Army Sergeant who served in Iraq.
The vets, who will be unarmed but wearing body armor, have vowed to protect protesters from police who have arrested hundreds of people in the last two months while utilizing tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons.
The Army Corps of Engineers has said that on Dec. 5 it will close the land it manages and on which the Oceti Sakowin camp stands. North Dakota’s governor has said the camp must immediately evacuate at that point, citing safety concerns now that the bitter plains winter has arrived.
On Thursday, President-elect Donald Trump said for the first time that he endorses the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, which protesters, who call themselves water protectors, fear will leak into water supplies and destroy sacred burial sites.”
The gathering of ex-military personnel has been called in response to weeks of violent clashes between the largely indigenous residents of the region, who are protesting the environmental and cultural threat of the crude oil pipeline project, and armed security guards supported by local and state police who are enforcing the building work. So far in excess of one hundred people have been injured in the confrontations, some requiring hospitalisation. One woman, Vanessa Dundon, was left partially blind after being shot in the face with a CS gas canister by law enforcement officers while another, Sophia Wilansky, has undergone hours of surgery to prevent her arm being amputated. The limb was badly mutilated when police threw a concussion grenade which exploded against her body in a stand-off at the neighbouring Backwater Bridge. Retuers has more:
“U.S. military veterans were building barracks on Friday at a protest camp in North Dakota to support thousands of activists who have squared off against authorities in frigid conditions to oppose a multibillion-dollar pipeline project near a Native American reservation.
Veterans volunteering to be human shields have been arriving at the Oceti Sakowin camp near the small town of Cannon Ball, where they will work with protesters who have spent months demonstrating against plans to route the Dakota Access Pipeline beneath a lake near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, organizers said.
The Native Americans and protesters say the $3.8 billion pipeline threatens water resources and sacred sites.
Wesley Clark Jr, a writer whose father is retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark, met with law enforcement on Friday to tell them that potentially 3,500 veterans would join the protest and the demonstrations would be carried out peacefully, protest leaders said.”
Once again, it is worth pointing out that the source of these protests dates back to an unexplained decision by the US authorities to move the planned route of the Dakota Access Pipeline from a crossing over the Missouri River near Bismarck, the majority European-American state capital, to a position 70 kilometres to the south, just upstream of the Standing Rock tribal lands. Which tells its own story.