October 27, 2016; Reuters
The protester-protectors of the land on which the Dakota Access Pipeline is scheduled to be constructed moved camp on Monday of this week to a site that participating Native Americans claimed was theirs under an 1851 treaty but which is listed as private property and is directly in the path of the pipeline. The police have subsequently moved in and, yesterday, arrested 141 people.
“This is not about the pipeline. This is not about those who wish to legally protest. This is about the rule of law,” Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said in a statement.
Police have variously claimed that they have arrested a woman who fired shots at or near officers, but the protectors have declared from the start their intention to be nonviolent. Law enforcement presence, however, has included arms and militarized vehicles and helicopters.
North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple said “Private property is not the place to carry out a peaceful protest,” but much in that statement is up for dispute.
Standing Rock tribal chairman Dave Archambault II released the following statement:
Militarized law enforcement agencies moved in on water protectors with tanks and riot gear today. We continue to pray for peace. We call on the state of North Dakota to oversee the actions of local law enforcement to, first and foremost, ensure everyone’s safety.
The Department of Justice must send overseers immediately to ensure the protection of First Amendment rights and the safety of thousands here at Standing Rock. DOJ can no longer ignore our requests. If harm comes to any who come here to stand in solidarity with us, it is on their watch. They must step in and hold the state of North Dakota and Morton County accountable for their acts of violence against innocent, prayerful people.
The Obama administration has asked DAPL to voluntarily halt construction until the review process has been completed, but DAPL has ignored these repeated requests. By deploying law enforcement to support DAPL construction, the State of North Dakota is collaborating with Energy Transfer Partners and escalating tensions.
We need our state and federal governments to bring justice and peace to our lands, not the force of armored vehicles.
We have repeatedly seen a disproportionate response from law enforcement to water protectors’ nonviolent exercise of their constitutional rights. Today we have witnessed people praying in peace, yet attacked with pepper spray, rubber bullets, sound and concussion cannons. We urge state and federal government agencies to give this tense situation their immediate and close attention.
We also call on the thousands of water protectors who stand in solidarity with us against DAPL to remain in peace and prayer. Any act of violence hurts our cause and is not welcome here. We invite all supporters to join us in prayer that, ultimately, the right decision—the moral decision—is made to protect our people, our sacred places, our land and our resources.
We won’t step down from this fight. As peoples of this earth, we all need water. This is about our water, our rights, and our dignity as human beings.