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North Dakota Cops Blasted #NoDAPL Activists With Water On Below-Freezing Sunday Night

By aaroncynic in News on Nov 21, 2016 10:00PM

Hundreds of demonstrators block the entrance to the Army Corps of Engineers headquarters as they protest against the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline November 15, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Nearly 200 water protectors—activists who for months have been trying to put a halt to the construction of the controversial Dakota Access pipeline—were injured Sunday night in North Dakota after law enforcement agencies used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse them.

The 1,170 mile pipeline, which is about 85 percent complete, runs from North Dakota to Patoka, a town in Marion County in downstate Illinois. According to documents published by ABC in early November, a previously proposed route had the pipeline crossing the Missouri River north of Bismarck, but that was rejected due to concerns raised by engineers over the potential contamination of drinking water. Instead, the eventual route chosen takes the pipeline just upstream, through indigenous lands near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department accused water protectors of starting fires, saying they moved in on the group to quell an “ongoing riot.” The Department said that the water cannons were used to put out fires, but dozens of accounts from local reporters, independent journalists and other witnesses however show demonstrators being hosed down by an armored vehicle in sub-zero temperatures without any visible fire. Many also published photos and videos detailing the injuries activists received, which sent at least a dozen to the hospital, according to the New York Times. One man had to be revived by a medical team for cardiac arrest.

Morton County Sheriff's spokesperson Rob Keller told the Associated Press "Water hoses were used to keep distance between officers and criminal agitators and also to put out fires set by those agitators.”

According to a report from Chicago-based Native journalist and organizer Kelly Hayes, who has traveled to the camp three times, there are at least 14 Midwestern law enforcement agencies involved in operations in Standing Rock, half of which are from Northwest Indiana.

A joint statement from several groups published by Camp of the Sacred Stones, however, alleges that small grassfires were started by police after they fired flares while water protectors were attempting to clear the road of vehicles that were disabled during previous clashes.

“For weeks, the main highway to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation has been cut off, with no movement by the state to address a public safety risk,” said Tara Houska, National Campaigns Director for Honor the Earth in the statement. “Attempting to clear the road was met with police spraying people with water cannons in 26 degree weather—that’s deadly force, it’s freezing outside. They want to kill people for clearing a road? When will our cries be heard? Stop the Dakota Access pipeline. Respect the rights of indigenous people, of all peoples.”

Various activist groups in Chicago have organized several solidarity rallies for the water protectors in North Dakota. The Huffington Post reports on Saturday, several people were arrested at a Citibank branch on North Clark Street after shutting it down to demand Citigroup divest from the pipeline. ““Citibank’s funding of the pipeline directly contributes to the desecration of the sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe,” said Sean Estelle, a member of Rising Tide, one of several groups that participated in the demonstration in a statement emailed to Chicagoist.

Meanwhile, activists with the group Black Rose/Rosa Negra the Bridgeport community are collecting supplies Monday evening for those on the front lines in North Dakota. According to a Facebook event, interested parties can bring supplies or cash to Bernice’s Tavern at 3238 S. Halsted St. beginning at 8:00 p.m.