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#NoDAPL Live Blog: 13 Sioux Officials Pen Letter to President Obama
Posted on Dec 1, 2016
Editor’s note: Scroll down to see the live multimedia updates embedded in the Evrybit story at the bottom of this post. Read Truthdig contributor Donald Kaufman’s firsthand accounts of the water protector movement here and here.
2:07 p.m. PST Wednesday: The Washington Post reported that Ed Ou, an award-winning photojournalist, was detained for hours on the Canadian-U.S. border on his way to cover the #NoDAPL demonstrations. The Post stated:
Hugh Handeyside of the American Civil Liberties Union wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security expressing concerns over Ou’s detention.
“Mr. Ou’s experience at the border raises troubling questions about whether the decision to deny him entry to the United States was either in retaliation for his work as a journalist or intended to prevent him from reporting on protests over planned pipeline construction in North Dakota,” Handeyside wrote.
10:17 a.m. PST Wednesday: Yesterday, “water protectors” sued those allegedly responsible for excessive force during peaceful demonstrations. Indian Country Today Media Network reports:
Despite Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s orders to evacuate, “water protectors” and their supporters are still standing strong. In fact, around 2,000 veterans are expected to arrive at the #NoDAPL encampments in the coming days to participate in the demonstrations as “human shields.” The New York Times reports:
The “water protectors” are also receiving support from Hollywood. Musician Neil Young and his girlfriend, actor Daryl Hannah, posted a statement of support on Young’s Facebook page:
Young and Hannah then called on President Obama to “step in and end the violence against the peaceful “water protectors” at Standing Rock immediately.” If that weren’t enough of a show of support, Young also posted a short song dedicated to the #NoDAPL movement:
Young and Hannah aren’t the first big Hollywood names to speak up about Standing Rock—they join actress Shailene Woodley, who was previously arrested for her participation in peaceful protests and who recently spoke about how to be an ally to indigenous people. Watch her interview with Tracy Rector of Longhouse Media below:
11:39 a.m. PST Tuesday: In another disturbing update from Standing Rock, Reuters reports:
10:14 a.m. PST Tuesday: North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple is helping to oust #NoDAPL demonstrators from encampments on federal land. On Monday, Dalrymple ordered an “emergency evacuation” of the camps supposedly because of the weather. Reuters reports:
As Dalrymple noted, the weather is increasingly harsh. A winter storm warning was issued for parts of North Dakota on Monday night, and Standing Rock has since received almost a foot of snow, according to the Standing Rock Rising Facebook page:
None of this has deterred the water protectors, who previously stated that they would remain at Standing Rock regardless of the weather.
2:06 p.m. PST Saturday: A critical new development in the situation in North Dakota unfolded late Friday when the Army Corps of Engineers ordered the abandonment of one of the main encampments at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. The Army Corps, the main force behind the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, sent a letter to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, as NBC News reports:
The Army Corps notes in its letter that it “has established a free speech zone” for “anyone wishing to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline project.” On social media, many users pointed out this unusual section of the letter:
What would happen to anyone still residing in the Oceti Sakowin camp after Dec. 5 is unclear. “Since the Army Corps does not have its own law enforcement personnel, it is unclear who would potentially enforce trespassing charges,” Unicorn Riot reports. “Any operation to disband the Oceti Sakowin encampment could possibly be carried out by Bureau of Indian Affairs federal police who are active in the area, the North Dakota National Guard, or possibly the Morton County Sheriff and assisting agencies who have thus far been permitted to come onto some Army Corps lands to carry out field force operations against water protectors.”
Also on Friday, Sheriff Gary Schwartzenberger—who oversees McKenzie County in North Dakota—was suspended from his position by Gov. Jack Dalrymple. “The petition for removal was made by the county’s acting State’s Attorney Todd Schwarz on Oct. 24, alleging the sheriff is guilty of misconduct, malfeasance, crime in office, neglect of duty or gross incompetency,” states The Bismarck Tribune. “The Village Business Institute found grounds to remove the sheriff based on harassment and intimidation amid concerns that he fostered a quasi-military environment.”
1:25 p.m. PST Friday: Thousands gathered at Standing Rock for peaceful prayer circles and demonstrations on Thanksgiving Day. NPR reports:
The violent origins of Thanksgiving made yesterday’s peaceful action all the more significant. “Given what we are currently fighting against, Thanksgiving is not really a celebration for us,” Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network told ABC News.
“It’s a day to remember what the real story is and acknowledge that we’re still here, and our ancestors fought and died for us to be here,” Tara Houska, the national campaigns director for Honor the Earth, told The Guardian.
Check out photos and video from Thanksgiving Day at Standing Rock below:
Truthdig contributor Donald Kaufman, who is reporting on the Standing Rock activity, also sent photos from Thanksgiving Day:
However, more direct actions took place in the nearby town of Mandan, N.D. Unicorn Riot reports that a “banquet” was laid out in an intersection.
“Vegetables, a puppet of a crucified pilgrim and a pig’s head all sat atop banners that read ‘No Dakota Access Pipeline’ and ‘Fuck Genocidal Appreciation Day,’ ” Unicorn Riot reports. “During this time, police made at least two arrests, and at least one person has been hospitalized from injuries sustained during their arrest.”
8:11 a.m. PST Friday: At Yes! Magazine, Jenni Monet reports: “North Dakota is stretched thin in its battle to protect the Dakota Access pipeline construction: Costs are nearing $15 million, and police reinforcements are diminishing.” She adds: “The courts are taxed. The jail is burdened. The 34 local law enforcement officers are stressed.”
Monet also suggests that phone calls to authorities from supporters of the demonstrators are influencing authorities’ decision-making.
2:57 p.m. PST Thursday: Aaron Murphy sent along the video below and a photo, above, showing footage from the night of Nov. 20, when law enforcement officers surrounded #NoDAPL demonstrators on a bridge near the Oceti Sakowin camp in North Dakota and fired at them using tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and noise cannons.
In the video, demonstrators give first-person accounts of the clash: “I got shot, I got maced ... I don’t care, I’m going back over there for my brothers and sisters because we made a move.”
A medic on the scene chimes in: “What I see makes me feel very angry,” he says, describing a series of common injuries and ailments—potential brain injuries from rubber bullets, effects of tear gas and mace, hypothermia—that he and his team were treating.
When the off-camera interviewer suggests that “this sounds like war,” the medic responds: “It pretty much is war right now, except it’s a one-sided war where people aren’t doing anything, and they’re being attacked. This is not war—it’s an attack.”
Watch the full clip below (Aaron Murphy via Facebook):
11:49 a.m. PST Wednesday: Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., penned a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch earlier this week, imploring her to protect the demonstrators. It reads:
While it seems that someone else has finally joined Sen. Bernie Sanders in speaking up about the “water protectors,” many Democrats remain silent. “This is likely because the Dakota Access Pipeline is being funded by some of the most prolific donors to the Democratic Party,” Counterpunch declares. “Sunoco Logistics Partners is set to acquire Energy Transfer Partners, the company constructing the pipeline, while Sunoco will oversee its operation. The owners of the company primarily consist of Wall Street firms, including Goldman Sachs.”
Fortune provides more information on Sunoco’s acquisition of Energy Transfer Partners:
6:32 p.m. PST Tuesday: A special gathering is slated to take place on Thursday at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. A delegation of 50 people from around the country—actress Jane Fonda, Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans and author Judy Wicks among them—are converging at the Oceti Sakowin camp for a “Wopila Feast.” (Wopila means “thank you” in Lakota.) The participants will honor and serve dinner to 500 Native American water protectors who have been demonstrating against the Dakota Access pipeline project.
“Our purpose is to give back to Native Americans—the Standing Rock Sioux and representatives of over 300 native tribes from throughout the Americas who have joined them in support,” Wicks said in a statement. Evans added, “The wisdom this country was founded on came from the native people and in this time of forgetting we need to come back to the well of wisdom and the depth of a culture of peace to remember and to serve.”
Truthdig will follow along as the Wopila Feast takes place. Watch for updates on Thursday.
2:42 p.m. PST Tuesday: The Standing Rock Medic & Healer Council has released new information about the condition of 21-year-old activist Sophia Wilansky, who was taken to the hospital and initially declared to be in critical condition after Sunday night’s clash with law enforcement left her with a severely injured arm. Wilansky’s father also provided a statement:
Additionally, the ACLU has been keeping a running list of the law enforcement agencies intervening in the #NoDAPL demonstrations, assembled from the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and media accounts. According to the list, currently, a total of 75 different law enforcement organizations have provided assistance to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department.
11:02 a.m. PST Tuesday: At least one person is in critical condition after hundreds of “water protectors” were hit with water cannons, mace and rubber bullets during Sunday night’s clash with police, Democracy Now! reports:
Wilansky’s father reportedly released images of her injury (warning: extremely graphic).
According to the Standing Rock Medic & Healer Council, approximately 300 people were injured during Sunday’s confrontation with law enforcement. In a statement issued on its Facebook page, the council wrote:
Amnesty International is reportedly sending a fourth delegation to North Dakota in the wake of Sunday’s violence, and the organization’s U.S. executive director, Margaret Huangin, wrote a letter to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department condemning police tactics.
“Amnesty International is writing to convey its concern regarding the use of force by Morton County Sheriff’s Department (MCSD) against ‘water protectors’ who are protesting against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota,” the letter reads. “The U.S. government is obligated under international law to respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights of Indigenous people, including the rights to freedom of expression and assembly. It is the legitimate right of people to peacefully express their opinion. Public assemblies should not be considered as the ‘enemy’. The command hierarchy must convey a clear message to law enforcement officials that their task is to facilitate and not to restrict a peaceful public assembly.”
Truthdig contributor Sonali Kolhatkar spoke with Nick Tilsen, executive director of Thunder Valley Community Development Corp. and a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe. Tilsen was present during Sunday night’s confrontation. Watch the interview below:
9:57 a.m. PST Monday: The group, Organized Allies of Standing Rock, released a statement about Sunday night’s police confrontation with “peacefully assembled” “water protectors”:
9:36 a.m. PST Monday: Truthdig correspondent Donald Kaufman reports on the clash between police and the water protectors. Police used rubber bullets, tear gas, mace, water cannons and “some kind of flash or stun grenade” against peaceful activists seeking to protect habitat from construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline Sunday night, says Kaufman.
6:15 a.m. PST Monday: “They were attacked with water cannons,” said LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, a Standing Rock Sioux tribe member and founder of the Sacred Stone camp, speaking to The Guardian about the police attack on the water protectors Sunday evening. “It is 23 degrees ... out there with mace, rubber bullets, pepper spray, etc. They are being trapped and attacked. Pray for my people.”
According to Jade Begay, a spokeswoman for the Indigenous Environmental Network, 167 people were injured and seven were taken to the hospital.
The Guardian quoted the Morton County Sheriff’s Department describing the incident as an “ongoing riot” and the protesters as “very aggressive.” A spokesman for the sheriff’s department said that law enforcement was spraying water because protesters were lighting fires on and around the bridge. Truthdig correspondent Donald Kaufman, who was at the scene, calls that portrayal a “lie.”
12:19 p.m. PST Thursday: Unicorn Riot has shared video footage of an arrest made in Bismarck, N.D., earlier Thursday:
12:01 p.m. PST Thursday: Demonstrations have now moved to the city of Mandan, N.D., home to the Morton County jail. Donald Kaufman reports that demonstrators are protesting the arrest and confinement of Red Fawn Fallis, a #NoDAPL activist arrested in late October.
Kaufman explains that Fallis’ supporters allege that she was unjustly charged with attempted murder after police arrested her.
“[Y]outh protesters said they were were devastated to find out a week later that local police had arrested Fallis and charged her with attempted murder, saying that she had pulled out a .38 revolver and fired three gunshots at police during another mass arrest incident,” The Guardian reports. “To some pipeline protesters, who described Fallis as a passionate activist dedicated to peaceful tactics, her detention is the latest sign that North Dakota police are aggressively targeting a growing movement and will go to great lengths to protect a powerful corporation threatening sacred tribal lands.”
Demonstrators in Mandan County today are demanding Red Fawn’s release. Kaufman shared live video footage of the unfolding events:
Scroll down to see more photos and videos of the demonstrations.
10:22 a.m. PST Thursday: Peaceful protesters gathered in Bismarck, N.D. early Thursday. Truthdig’s Donald Kaufman is following the demonstrations and sending live updates. According to Kaufman, three people have already been arrested “without provocation.”
“One tried to give the police officer a flower,” Kaufman says.
He also shared live video of the demonstrations on Truthdig’s Facebook page:
Scroll down to see more live updates embedded in the Evrybit story at the bottom of this page.
6:17 p.m. PST Wednesday: The Native Americans do not view the #NoDAPL movement as a protest but as an act of survival. It is the continuation of resistance to centuries of repression and oppression. Donald Kaufman wrote a firsthand account of what’s happening on the ground at Standing Rock.
2:04 p.m. PST Wednesday: As today’s demonstrations come to a close, take some time to learn more about the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s fight. Filmmaker Lucian Read’s latest short film, “Mni Wiconi: The Standing at Standing Rock,” premiered in October, and gives a glimpse into the struggle and importance of the tribe’s fight against the DAPL.
Watch the short film below:
12:02 p.m. PST Wednesday: Donald Kaufman reports that Wednesday’s action at the Bank of North Dakota has ended.
The protests will probably continue in the days ahead, and the #NoDAPL movement continues to receive national attention. For example, on Tuesday, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. made an appearance at one of the camps. Indian Country Today Media Network reports:
10:22 a.m. PST Wednesday: Peaceful protesters, determined to halt construction of the proposed Dakota Access pipeline, rallied outside the Bank of North Dakota in Bismarck on Wednesday morning. The protesters chose the bank because, they allege, it funds treaty violations against the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.
The financial interests behind the pipeline have recently become the focus for many who oppose it—especially because President-elect Donald Trump reportedly has financial ties to the project.
Tuesday night, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders made a surprise appearance outside the White House, where #NoDAPL protesters were gathered. “So we say to President Obama, in any and every way you can, stop the pipeline,” Sanders told the crowd. “Tell the Army Corps of Engineers that we know—we don’t need any more studies to know—that in the midst of a great crisis, a global crisis with regard to climate change, every environmental study will tell you: Do not build this pipeline.”
Sanders also criticized Trump’s pro-fossil fuel position.
Be sure to check out the Evrybit story at the bottom of this post—Truthdig contributor Donald Kaufman is covering Wednesday’s demonstrations and providing live updates from North Dakota.
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