While Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier sat down with President Barack Obama at a private roundtable in Los Angeles on Tuesday, October 25, Morton County, N.D. Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier was calling in police reinforcements from six states to enforce Energy Transfer Partners’ demands that “trespassers” be removed from the path of the pipeline.
Authorities implied they may forcibly remove the water protectors from the new camp, which is on land recently purchased by Dakota Access LLC, the subsidiary that is building the pipeline.
“We have the resources. We could go down there at any time,” Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said, according to the Associated Press. “We’re trying not to.”
“We are here to enforce the law as needed,” Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said. “It’s private property.”
The so-called trespassers are Lakota citizens and their allies determined to stand their ground to prevent further destruction of burial grounds and cultural sites, and to protect their water supply from the pipeline. As DAPL moves forward with aggressive construction even on weekends and at night, water protectors took the bold action to declare eminent domain over their homelands last week and set up a new camp directly in the pipeline’s path.
What began with prayers and a single tipi alongside Highway 1806 quickly grew to more than a dozen tipis surrounded by tents, buses, cars and hundreds of water protectors. Some are calling it the “1851 Treaty Camp” to acknowledge their Treaty rights.
Across the road is the encroaching pipeline and a heavily militarized police force with armored vehicles, helicopters, planes, ATVs and busloads of officers. Tensions are growing as unarmed citizens worry that police will use unnecessarily harsh tactics.
In recent weeks, nearly 300 unarmed water protectors who were arrested have been subjected to pepper spray, strip-searches, delayed bail, exaggerated charges and physical violence, according to interviews with several who were taken into custody. The ACLU and National Lawyers Guild recently sent attorneys to Standing Rock to help the Red Owl Collective, a team of volunteer lawyers headed by attorney Bruce Ellison, who are representing many of those arrested.
On Wednesday, October 26, civil rights leader and Rainbow PUSH Coalition founder the Rev. Jesse Jackson arrived in Standing Rock to speak out against the multiple human and civil rights violations being perpetrated against water protectors.
“When will the taking stop? When will we start treating the first peoples of these lands with the respect and honor they deserve?”
The decision to change the pipeline route from north of Bismarck to its current route is “the ripest case of environmental racism I’ve seen in a long time,” Jackson said. “Bismarck residents don’t want their water threatened, so why is it okay for North Dakota to react with guns and tanks when Native Americans ask for the same right?”
Full story at ICTMN. Related news: