This time I have been at Standing Rock, North Dakota at the Oceti Shakowin camp to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) for four days during a whirlwind of national and international attention following two terrible displays of police brutality toward the water protectors.
On October 27, over 100 local and state police and National Guard dressed in riot gear with helmets, face masks, batons and other protective clothing, carrying assault rifles stormed the Front Line North camp. They had other military equipment such as Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Personnel carriers (MRAP) and Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRAD) and a full assortment of tasers, bean bag bullets and clubs/batons. They arrested 141 persons, destroyed the Frontline camp and threw the personal possessions of those arrested in garbage dumpsters. The Morton county sheriff reportedly is investigating the purposeful destruction of personal property.
In another overreaction to the unarmed civilian water protectors, on November 2, police shot tear gas and beanbag bullets at water protectors who were standing in a small tributary to the Missouri River. They were standing in the frigid water to protect a handmade bridge across the river to sacred burial sites that was being destroyed by the police. Police snipers stood on the ridge of the burial hill with their feet on sacred burial sites.
On October 3, in solidarity with water protectors, almost 500 religious leaders from all over the United States arrived to join water protectors in a day of prayer for stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline. Retired Episcopal Priest John Flogerty had put out a national call for clergy to come to Standing Rock. He said he was stunned that in less than 10 days, 474 leaders answered the call to stand for protection of Mother Earth. During the two-hour interfaith witness, discussion and prayer near the current digging of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), one could hear the digging machines destroying the ridge line to the south of Highway 1806.
After the gathering, about 50 of the group drove to Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota, to call on the Governor of the State to stop the pipeline. Fourteen clergy sat down in the rotunda of the capitol in prayer, refused to end their prayers and leave the capitol building when ordered by the police, and were arrested.
Another five people were arrested 30 minutes later when storm troopers were deployed to intimidate the remainder of the group when they walked across the street toward the sidewalk in front of the Governor's ranch style house to kneel in prayer. The women arrestees were transported four hours to a county jail in Fargo, North Dakota when a women's cell was available in Bismarck. Two of the men arrested were shocked when they were told that the women arrestees had been taken to Fargo as they had been placed by themselves in a cell that would accommodate 10 that was filled with feminine hygiene products.
The men arrestees also said that their cash was taken and the jail issued a check for the cash, resulting in their having NO cash upon release making getting a cab or buying food virtually impossible as taxis and grocery stores generally don't cash checks. Instead, those emerging from jail are told to go to a bank to cash the checks which are located far from the jail and probably closed when arrestees are released.