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Why Police From 7 Different States Invaded a Standing Rock Camp--and Other Questions

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Reprinted from www.yesmagazine.org by Tracy Loeffelholz Dunn

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On Thursday, scores of law enforcement officers from seven different states showed up with riot gear, armored vehicles, and military weaponry to clear away Standing Rock's newest camp, the "1851 Treaty Camp." The camp stands directly in the path of the Dakota Access pipeline. Tipis and sweat lodges were destroyed. Vehicles were set ablaze. More than 140 protesters were arrested.

More than 140 protesters were arrested.

The county sheriff is claiming the water protectors were violent and that police were stopping a riot. But hours of live video feed from people caught in the confrontation showed instead a military-style assault on unarmed people: police beating people with batons, police with assault rifles, chemical mace, guns firing rubber bullets and beanbag rounds, tasers.

Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, has maintained that its citizens and supporters are engaging in peaceful, nonviolent expressions of their opposition to the pipeline.

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Tara Houska, national campaigns director for the Native environmental group Honor the Earth, and Thane Maxwell, an organizer with Honor the Earth, have been at the camp for months. They describe what is happening:

Law enforcement from at least six other states have been involved in the assaults in North Dakota. And Morton County's sheriff claims the federal government's refusal to provide manpower and financial assistance factored into the call for help from other states. Tell me about the law that allows this.

The troops from other states (Wisconsin, Indiana, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming, and Nebraska) are sent here through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which was designed for natural disaster situations. In 20 years of operation, EMAC has only been used twice for protest purposes--in the Baltimore rebellion after Freddie Gray's murder and here at Standing Rock. Its use here was made possible by Gov. Jack Dalrymple's declaration of a State of Emergency, which was itself a gross misuse of funding and powers intended for natural disaster relief. DeSmogBlog did an excellent, in-depth piece on this.

If folks in those surrounding states and counties want to complain about their tax dollars going to support this, what should they do?

I (Thane) am from Minneapolis, where Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek has sent 30 Special Operations forces to Standing Rock. We encountered them here on the front lines on Thursday and documented their brutality against us. Tara shot footage of Hennepin County officers violently beating a man with batons that they had pulled out of the crowd. Honor the Earth has a substantial constituent base in Hennepin County, so we and our allies have pushed hard to demand the sheriff withdraw the troops. Thousands have signed petitions and attended rallies at government offices this week, and many elected officials, nonprofit leaders, and faith leaders have issued public statements calling for immediate withdrawal. But so far, we have not won. We encourage people in other jurisdictions sending troops to demand their elected officials put an end to this violence. Don't take no for an answer.

How many water protectors have been arrested so far?

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Over 400 people have been arrested. Some are still in jail from the mass arrests on Thursday, as law enforcement makes it extremely difficult to track people, so an exact count is unknown.

There have been reports of police violence against elders and children, right?

Yes. Elders and children have been bitten by DAPL private security attack dogs, pepper-sprayed, shot with rubber bullets, and beaten by police. Often elders are in ceremonial dress and actively praying when arrested--drumming, singing, burning sage. One member of the International Indigenous Youth Council suffered a broken wrist from a strike with a police baton, and just a few days later an officer saw the cast and intentionally twisted her wrist to reinjure her.

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