Good morning Peeps. ND is stepping up its’ aggression against Peaceful Water Protectors over the weekend. Rubber bullets, batons and possibly live ammunition (to shoot down a drone over Tribal land) were used.
Democracy Now has a special report up regarding what happened:
We go to North Dakota for an update on the ongoing Standoff at Standing Rock, where thousands of Native Americans representing more than 200 tribes from across the Americas are resisting the construction of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline, which is slated to carry oil from North Dakota’s Bakken oilfields through South Dakota, Iowa and into Illinois.
On Saturday, over 100 people, who call themselves protectors, not protesters, were arrested at a peaceful march after they were confronted by police in riot gear, carrying assault rifles.
They say police pepper-sprayed them and then arrested them en masse, and discharged rubber bullets to shoot down drones the water protectors were using to document the police activity.
We are joined by Sacheen Seitcham, media activist with West Coast Women Warriors Media Cooperative who was arrested Saturday along with more than 80 other protesters and journalists at a construction site for the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota.
Amy Goodman interviewed Native American Activist and Bernie supporter, Tara Houska about the escalation of the Morton County Sheriff’s Office and the escalation of pipeline construction (pretty much 24/7 now) with extra construction crews being employed.
TARA HOUSKA: I think, you know, the sheriff is telling a story of these escalated behaviors and, you know, agitators. I found it very interesting that the Morton County press—their press contact actually stated instead that, you know, although the protesters peacefully dispersed, what they were doing was still illegal.
So they’re—you know, the Sheriff’s Office is attempting to characterize it both as a riot, as people praying as a riot, and increasing numbers of arrests, while at the same time acknowledging that people are indeed peacefully dispersing when asked to leave.
So, it’s kind of like two conflicting stories here. And I think they’re looking to scare folks off to get this pipeline into the ground, to do anything it takes to get the pipeline into the ground, including massive arrests and, you know, open violations of, you know—I mean, using mace on people for absolutely no reason.
Some of the videos show that there was no way that the officer was in any threaten of harm, actually grabbing protesters and macing them.
AMY GOODMAN: I was on a North Dakota radio program right after Sheriff Kirchmeier, and he was very clear. He said five people, or more than five people, is a riot. Can you respond to this?
Because it seems that the charges have escalated. In the beginning, it was disorderly conduct, then criminal trespass, and now it’s riot.
TARA HOUSKA: I think they’re looking to—you know, like I said, I think they’re looking to scare folks off.
They’re also looking to drain resources. There is a legal fund that has been collected off of people’s goodwill donations to support the direct action—the direct actions against Dakota Access to stop the construction.
And now, with these escalated charges, they can increase the amount of bail for each individual arrested. You know, claiming that people praying and drumming is somehow a riot is ludicrous.
I’m interested to see how a prosecutor could even bring that and prove that in a court of law.
I know that at one of the lockdowns that happened in the last week, there was only four people there. That doesn’t even meet the statutory requirement of their so-called riot, yet they still were all charged with inciting a riot. Four people doesn’t seem like a riot to me, nor does a group of Native Americans peacefully praying and smudging one another.
I’ve added the bolding…interesting that 4 people gathered together are now considered a “Riot” 🙁