So what is the Dakota Access Pipeline and why are large crowds of people deciding to protest it? Well, in a nutshell, the pipeline is a project that will allow crude oil to flow from North Dakota to major refining markets in a more direct and cost-effective way. The pipeline will be approximately 1,172 miles and will connect the Bakken and Three Forks production areas from North Dakota to Illinois. On its face, it seems like a worthy investment since the government claims it will create 8,000-12,000 jobs during construction. However, there have been numerous protests by the Native American community in the area because it infringes on their land. The tribe suggests the pipeline will disrupt sacred lands and burial grounds along with stating it could have a negative impact on the environment; the pipeline will run under the Missouri River, a significant supplier of the tribe’s drinking water.
The activists have attracted thousands of people to protest the pipeline, resulting in over 200 tribes being represented in North Dakota.
Also, and perhaps even more significant, over 2,000 US military veterans have volunteered to build barracks and serve as human shields to protect the activists protesting the construction of the pipeline. This comes at a time when the police in the area used tear gas, rubber bullets, and water hoses to break up the protesting. As a result of the police conduct, 17 people were sent to the hospital. Some were treated for hypothermia because of the water hoses used on them; not to mention, North Dakota tends to have freezing temperatures this time of year. The way the police acted is completely unwarranted since the activists were peacefully protesting, a right that is guaranteed by the 1st amendment. Despite that fact, the police justified their decision to use water hoses and other methods to break up the protests. Police showed up in riot gear and proceeded to spray the protestors with a water hose positioned on top of an armored vehicle while forming a wall to prevent the protestors from moving further down the road.
This is extremely unfortunate because these peaceful activists are simply exercising their constitutional right to protest, but instead they were met by brute force from the police who are sworn to protect them. There are many videos displaying the unacceptable conduct by the police in the area and I will post links to some of the videos at the end of this piece.
Despite all of this, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. Over 2,000 US military veterans have volunteered to travel to North Dakota and assist the protestors in their fight against the pipeline. These veterans have pledged to build barracks and serve as human shields to protect the activists from harm at the hands of the police. What could possibly be more American than this? I’ll wait.
These veterans traveling to North Dakota to protest begs the question: how are the police going to handle US military veterans being on the front lines of this protest? Will the police treat the veterans the same way that they have treated the protestors or will they restrain themselves more? It will surely be interesting to see this story develop in the coming days and weeks.
Stay tuned for our coverage on the Dakota Access Pipeline, as we will update this story as it progresses.
Here are some of the links on the police conduct:
–Contributed by R.A