Sunday, February 26, 2017

The American Relayer - Issue 2: Politics in the United States...

Protect Protesters' Rights

In January 2016, the Dakota Access Pipeline was unanimously approved for construction, with the aim of creating a direct route to transport crude oil from the North Dakota Bakken region through South Dakota and Iowa into Illinois. The controversial pipeline could destroy ancestral burial grounds and poison the water supply for a sovereign nation — as well as millions of Americans downstream who rely on the Missouri River.

All eyes were on Standing Rock late last year as unwarranted armored vehicles rolled in. Law enforcement used automatic rifles, sound cannons, and concussion grenades against water protectors. An estimated 300 protesters were injured in November when police in riot gear used water cannons for hours in subfreezing weather to disperse them.

Personnel and equipment pouring in from over 75 law enforcement agencies from around the country and National Guard troops created a battlefield-like atmosphere at Standing Rock. Escalated police militarization was used to intimidate and silence water protectors’ free speech and their right to protest a pipeline which passes near sovereign territory.

Thousands from across the globe have joined in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to stop the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. The protest has brought together 200 or so tribes that have not united for more than 150 years. 

President Trump took executive action on January 24th 2017 encouraging the Army Corps of Engineers to override environmental review and speed up construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation. Any day now, law enforcement may try to disperse water protectors with unnecessary and dangerous use of force. With resilience, water protectors have already endured militarized crackdowns, police abuse, and daily intimidation – simply for defending their water rights.

  • 1. It is estimated that over 140 protesters, many of whom live in poverty, face felony charges and bonds of $1,500 each.
  • 2. North Dakota has received over 3 million dollars in military weapons and equipment through the Department of Defense 1033 program since the program began in the 1990s.
  • 3. Law enforcement in North Dakota is in potential violation of 1st Amendment right to free speech, 6th Amendment right to counsel for those subject to incarceration, and the 8th Amendment, which prohibits excessive bail.

Last holdouts are cleared from main Dakota Access pipeline protest camp
Law enforcement took control of the largest Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp Thursday, arresting or moving the few dozen people who had remained in the mud and snow in one of the largest environmental protests in American history.
At 2:09 p.m. (February 23, 2017), Oceti Sakowin protest camp was completely cleared by law enforcement!” the Morton County Sheriff’s Office wrote on its Facebook page, referring to the name protesters gave the camp just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation in North Dakota.
Later, law enforcement, with the aid of National Guard troops, also began clearing the smaller Rosebud camp, located across the Cannonball River. There were no reports of broad confrontations with law enforcement, though some people could be seen on live-stream videos being wrestled to the ground and handcuffed.
At least 30 people had been arrested by early afternoon, but many others fled toward a third camp, Sacred Stone, the original protest site established 10 months ago. The camp was set up on private land by a handful of people from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others who have argued that the $3.8-billion, 1,170-mile pipeline threatens the tribe’s water supply and sacred cultural sites.

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