When they kill someone, they’ll say they’re “just restin'”

I mentioned that the police were hosing Standing Rock protesters down with water cannons, putting them at risk for hypothermia. Well, the Morton County Sheriff has come out with a classic bit of double-speak.

According to the sheriff’s department, approximately 400 people were involved in the protest. When asked in a press conference Monday about the use of water cannons, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said, “We don’t have water cannons,” explaining, “This is just a fire hose.”

“It was sprayed more as a mist, and we didn’t want to get it directly on them, but we wanted to make sure to use it as a measure to help keep everybody safe,” he said. “We’re just not going to let people and protesters in large groups come in and threaten officers. That’s not happening.”

Oh, it was just a gentle, soothing mist that wasn’t even aimed at them, and it was all to keep everybody safe.

Just like the rubber bullets and tear gas, I suppose.

And the 167 people injured…that was just for their protection.

Sunday night’s no-holds-barred offensive by police from multiple agencies against unarmed water protectors opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline on Highway 1806’s Backwater Bridge — in which at least 167 suffered injuries — sent two elders into cardiac arrest, left a 13-year-old girl injured by a rubber bullet to the head, and now, one woman will almost certainly lose her arm.

Sophia Walinsky stood among the crowd of around 400 water protectors as the police launched an all-out assault, firing ‘nonlethal’ projectiles, tear gas, mace, LRAD sound cannons, and concussion grenades — one of which reportedly exploded on her left arm, tearing through flesh and exposing bone, and leaving her facing possible amputation.

One awkwardness here: I’m not including the link to that source right now, because it includes graphic photos of the woman with her arm blown apart, which the family has requested be taken down. If the photos are removed I’ll update this with a link.


  1. ikanreed says

    All this really tells me is that there is plenty of fascism acting in the country before trump brings it back to the national government.

  2. Becca Stareyes says

    Because cold mist in November in South Dakota is totally harmless. (Not to say that I think they are just spraying a ‘gentle mist’, but noting that any use of fire hoses in November is going to lead to a lot of ice and people who will need to be warmed up.

  3. says

    Can unarmed protesters really ‘threaten’ armored and armed cops? How? By making them feel bad about their life choices? Which they totally should.

  4. blf says

    Can unarmed protesters really ‘threaten’ armored and armed cops? How?

    Easy! Breath. Don’t bow down. Take a picture. Write a note. Speak to a reporter. Be a reporter. And so on…

    All extremely dangerous. Water cannon in freezing weather is very gentle and restrained, the goons are professionals, and are waiting for the ground to freeze solid before deploying tanks, attack aircraft, and logic.

  5. chigau (ever-elliptical) says

    So what’s the difference between a ‘water cannon’ and a ‘fire hose’?
    Aside from intent.

  6. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    or “pining for the fjords” /[triggered by python quote]
    same question here. maybe a threshold of pressure behind the water. Still, spraying a “mist” in subzero temperatures still seems like a quite deadly thing to do. Still capable of giving the protestors a thick coating of ice, even if snow was intended. Regardless of the force, water in subzero is dangerous.
    So I agree with the OP that the sheriff was trying his version of ‘doublespeak’ to avoid charges of endangerment.
    Police can’t handle people shouting “threats” at them? I did not know the LEOs were so delicately fragile to be handled with soft words and etc. oops that’s exactly what everyone says, don’t talk back nor raise ones voice to an LEO, move slowly, keep hands in view, …” I guess cops are snowflakes. *shit*

  7. xmp999 says

    Fire hoses? No no no… It was just a gentle hydrating mist. Rubber bullets? Of course not. Simply a long-range massage to relieve everyone’s tension. Tear gas? More like a complimentary tear duct flushing. It’s all to keep the protesters safe and happy. Like a day at the spa…

  8. blf says

    I briefly looked into the firehose–watercannon difference, since the only thing I could think of is the cannon is basically just that, a cannon — technically the term is “fire monitor” or “deluge engine” — and, for the most part, that apparently is the difference: Stationary, truck-, or boat-mounted devices which can (unlike firehoses) be operated by one person, and can be operated by remote control. Being securely attached to a lump of mass, fire monitors can deliver a larger volume of water and can deliver it at higher pressure (longer range).

    Using water cannon on people has been very rare in the States since the Civil Rights marches of the 1960s, when they got a very bad press. They are still used in some parts of Europe, and by assorted regimes elsewhere. Water cannon have killed people, including at least one instance of what is the big worry here, freezing in very cold weather.

    (All of the above is based on stuff found in Generalissimo Google University.)

  9. numerobis says

    As usual they deny everything, then they double down and play semantics games (it wasn’t tear gas, it was OC vapour — totally different! We never used water cannon, we used firehoses. We never use concussion grenades, we use percussion firecrackers. We don’t use rubber bullets, we use plastic-coated projectiles.)

    Also typical: they blame the protesters for anything bad that the less-than-lethal weaponry they unleash does. Maybe his eye was blown out and his face mangled by a rock someone threw that just looked like a this-is-not-a-rubber-bullet. Maybe her arm was blown up by a bomb the protesters were trying to set off. How will we ever know? You’d need to investigate, and we sure as heck aren’t going to do that.

  10. numerobis says

    (“percussion firecrackers” is my invention; the rest is all stuff I’ve actually read.)

  11. =8)-DX says

    Taking all of the above into account, aren’t we missing the bit of information that this was an attempt by protesters to clear the highway? To allow supplies and media access to the protesters’ camp. The reason the authorities reacted in this way seems to be because they are trying to break down the protesters with a siege, especially important when things get cold and nights long.
    Context! That makes things even worse!

  12. says


    Taking all of the above into account, aren’t we missing the bit of information that this was an attempt by protesters to clear the highway?

    That was in earlier news, that broke on Sunday and Monday. Along with one of the excuses given by the armored pigs for the water cannons was that protectors were trying to set “things” on fire. They weren’t – there were two bonfires, to keep protectors somewhat warm, which they had to barricade to keep from the cops trying to douse them. The cops got a bit pissy about that.

  13. wzrd1 says

    One ponders borrowing the services of a Forestry Service water tanker, just to relieve the thirst of those poor lawless enforcement officers – from 3000 feet or so.

  14. blf says

    Maybe her arm was blown up by a bomb the protesters were trying to set off.

    According to the Grauniad (see @16), this is exactly what the goons are claiming: “The Morton County sheriff’s department did not immediately respond to inquiries from the Guardian. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, a spokeswoman for the department denied the agency had deployed concussion grenades and suggested the injury may have occurred while protesters were rigging up their own explosives.”

  15. komarov says

    Re: Caine (#13):

    So you have the right to bear arms* but aren’t allowed to have a controlled camp fire to keep warm. Circumstances aside that sounds very American. As for the preemptive weaseling out of responsibility by the sheriff, you could use the same logic to justify lobbing chlorine gas grenades into a crowd. It’s a ‘disinfectant’ and nobody wants to get sick, right? Your healthcare dollars at work.

    As usual the enforcers – they really should drop the ‘law’ once and for all, if only to maintain a small vestige of credibility – deserve a colossal “fuck you”. **

    *subject to skin colour
    **Your blog is truly depressing, Caine. But please keep it up anyway.

  16. starfleetdude says

    More about the incident at the bridge the other night.

    Pipeline protester hospitalized, conflicting accounts emerge – (KARE-TV)

    “The subjects were given opportunities to retreat back, but it became obvious that they were tampering with the vehicle or planting a device,” said Highway Patrol Lieutenant Tom Iverson. “Their strange mannerisms led law enforcement to believe they were there for a purpose with a calculated effort to either cause harm or breach the line.”

    After the cylinders were rolled near the burned vehicle, an explosion, witnessed by law enforcement, occurred and several protestors ran to the area, pulled a female from under the burned vehicle, and fled the scene.

    Authorities do not know if that woman was Sophia Wilansky. They deny using any kind of explosive devices on protesters.