— CNN (@CNN) November 1, 2016
While President Barack Obama said his administration is willing to let “things play out” for a few more weeks when it comes to the escalating effort by Native American tribes to stop a pipeline in North Dakota, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) offered a distinctly more urgent response on Tuesday by saying “Damn right” the project should be stopped immediately.
Though Sanders has made his opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) known for months, he reiterated his opposition during a campaign rally on behalf of Hillary Clinton at Plymouth State University on Tuesday.
“Stop the Dakota pipeline!” someone yelled from the crowd during the speech, to which Sanders quickly responded: “Damn right.” He then added: “That is one of the issues, but there are many others.”
Sanders’ strong stance against DAPL—which has become a rallying point for native tribes and climate campaigners—is sharpening the contrast offered by other Democratic leaders—most notably Obama and Clinton.
Following escalating and violent tactics by police against pipeline opponents, who refer to themselves as “water protectors,” Obama told Now This News in a Tuesday interview that while there is an “obligation for authorities to show restraint” against those trying to block the construction, he was willing to let events “play out for several more weeks.”
With construction ongoing, however, tribal members have expressed serious concerns that in several more weeks the project would already be beyond the point of no return.
Meanwhile, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton disappointed pipeline opponents and climate activists earlier this week by offering a tepid, middle-of-the-road statement on the project.
“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,” read a statement released by her campaign. “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.”
In response, critics said characterized the response as a classic Clintonian “triangulation” and Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, said it was a statement that “literally says nothing. Literally.”
Police in riot gear shot rubber bullets and used pepper spray on demonstrators — who call themselves water protectors — on the shoreline of the Cantapeta Creek, just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation here on Wednesday.
After a few relatively peaceful days at the campground where thousands have gathered to demonstrate against a controversial North Dakota oil pipeline, demonstrators put out calls on social media to “make your way to the river” for a “river action,” but to do so “in prayer.”
Demonstrators on the shoreline prayed, played drums, sang, and waded into the river towards the base of the hill where armed police stood.
It was a “100 percent peaceful protest,” according to activist Erin Schrode, who was shot in the lower back with a rubber bullet while standing on the shoreline opposite police. Schrode had joined others from the camp in solidarity as they prayed on the shoreline.
A confrontation erupted after law enforcement dismantled a wooden bridge that demonstrators constructed to access the sacred site.
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