Authorities in riot gear forcibly evicted elders, women, youth and other Dakota Access Pipeline resisters in North Dakota on October 27, 2016. Photo by Jonathon Klett
Authorities in North Dakota arrested 141 people on Thursday in a violent crackdown at a #NoDAPL camp on treaty territory. Law enforcement agencies from a handful of states joined Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier in forcibly clearing the site near Highway 1806. Resisters were sprayed with mace, harassed by police officers and some suffered injured in the largest confrontation to date. "I went to the frontline in prayer for protection of the Missouri River and found myself in what I can only describe as a war zone," Kandi Mossett, a citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, said in an account provided by the Sacred Stone Camp. "I was sprayed in the face with pepper spray, the guy next to me was shot by something that didn't break the skin but appeared to have broken the ribs and another guy beside me was randomly snatched violently by police shoving me into the officers who held me off with batons then tried to grab me," Mossett continued. "I'm still in shock and keep waiting to wake from what's surely a nightmare though this is my reality as a Native woman in 2016 trying to defend the sacred," she concluded.
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Adam Alexander Johansson on Facebook: Stop Dakota Access Pipeline
Chairman Dave Archambault II of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe quickly condemned authorities for their "militarized" response to the situation. It took place as he and a delegation of youth were in New York City to raise more awareness of the #NoDAPL cause. "We have repeatedly seen a disproportionate response from law enforcement to water protectors’ nonviolent exercise of their constitutional rights," Archambault said in a statement. "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." Chairman Harold Frazier of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe was equally forceful. He is calling for international intervention, arguing that the federal government hasn't done enough to address the growing law enforcement presence on treaty lands. "The U.S. government promised to protect us through treaties, but they have failed us," Frazier said in a press release. "That’s why we are asking the United Nations to send troops to protect our people from the brutalities inflicted on our people by state police and the National Guard."
Dakota Access Pipeline from crossing through their treaty territory. On Tuesday, Frazier sat down at a private roundtable with President Barack Obama and asked him to do more about complaints of police brutality and violations of civil rights of those who are resisting the controversial project. During the meeting, which took place in Los Angeles, California, Frazier was assured by Obama that federal monitors are on the ground in North Dakota but he was told they are only there as observers. And on Thursday, Archambault and 10 tribal youth marched to the headquarters of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and urged her to take a stand against the project due to impacts on sacred sites, burial grounds and water resources. "As President Obama rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline, we urge the new President to be a leader and continue standing up for what is right by rejecting the Dakota Access Pipeline," the youth said in a statement after they peacefully occupied Clinton's headquarters in Brooklyn for a short period. "The First 100 Days is a significant time for you to set the stage – are you with us?" "Now is the time to prove your commitment to both strong climate action and Indigenous sovereignty," the youth continued. "Silence is not acceptable, stand with us and oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline."
#NoDAPL resisters formed a prayer circle before being forcibly evicted from a camp in North Dakota. Photo courtesy Sacred Stone Camp
The passionate plea, which occurred almost at the same time as the crackdown began back in North Dakota, did not move the former Secretary of State and former U.S. Senator. She issued a non-committal statement on Thursday about an issue that would likely land on her desk if she wins the November 8 election. "From the beginning of this campaign, Secretary Clinton has been clear that she thinks all voices should be heard and all views considered in federal infrastructure projects," the statement read. "Now, all of the parties involved—including the federal government, the pipeline company and contractors, the state of North Dakota, and the tribes—need to find a path forward that serves the broadest public interest," it read. "As that happens, it's important that on the ground in North Dakota, everyone respects demonstrators' rights to protest peacefully, and workers' rights to do their jobs safely.”
Sacred Stone Camp Video: Eviction of #NoDAPL Treaty Camp in North Dakota [Note: Explicit language in short clip]
The last comment about worker safety echoed the pained responses issued by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), who also has failed to take a concrete stand on the controversy. Yet no pipeline workers have been injured, arrested or placed in serious danger -- a stark contrast to the treatment of hundreds of resisters who have been rounded up since early August, strip-searched and kept in jail on minor infractions. Even Chairman Archambault was strip-searched after being arrested for allegedly interfering with construction of the pipeline. He told Democracy Now! that his hair was searched, ostensibly for weapons. While Sheriff Kirchmeier has repeatedly accused resisters of being violent through numerous posts on Facebook, no weapons have ever been found among those fighting the pipeline. But just this week, his office confirmed to Democracy Now! that Dakota Access security guards who used mace and dogs in a September 3 clash were unlicensed to work in the state.