Calls for U.S. Department of Justice to halt pipeline, investigate the law
By C.S. Hagen
CANNON BALL – The head of state, chief, and chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Dave Archambault II, called upon the U.S. Department of Justice for an injunction against the Dakota Access Pipeline on Monday morning.
“We are disappointed to see that our state and congressional delegations and Governor Jack Dalrymple have failed to ensure the safety and rights of the citizens engaged in peaceful protests who were arrested on Saturday,” Archambault said in a statement. “Their lack of leadership and commitment to creating a dialogue towards a peaceful solution reflects not only the unjust historical narrative against Native Americans, but a dangerous trend in law enforcement tactics across America.”
In total, 269 activists have been arrested since early August, nearly half of them taken into custody on Saturday and spread to jails across the Peace Garden State to spend the weekend behind bars.
“Today’s situation clearly illustrates what we have been saying for weeks,” Morton County Sheriff Kirchmeier said after the mass arrests. “That this protest is not peaceful or lawful… this is not about the pipeline. This is not about the protesters. This is about the rule of law.”
Activists are not protesting, they’re protecting, Standing Rock Sioux leaders said.
More than 900 law enforcement officials from 17 counties, 12 cities, and four states are currently using public funds to protect Energy Transfer Partner’s private project, known as DAPL. Wielding batons, automatic weapons, driving in armored vehicles, and spraying mace, with the North Dakota National Guard at their backs, and Dalrymple’s declaration of an emergency state in August, expenditures are rising – fast.
Archambault condemned Kirchmeier’s tactics.
“The militarization of local law enforcement and enlistment of multiple law enforcements agencies from neighboring states is needlessly escalating violence and unlawful arrests against peaceful protestors at Standing Rock,” Archambault said. “We do not condone reports of illegal actions, but believe the majority of peaceful protesters are reacting to strong-arm tactics and abuses by law enforcement.
“Thousands of water protectors have joined the tribe in solidarity against DAPL, without incident or serious injury. Yet, North Dakota law enforcement has proceeded with a disproportionate response to their nonviolent exercise of their First Amendment rights, even going as far as labeling them rioters and calling their every action illegal.”
Lawyers are being denied access to prisoners, camp attorney and ground coordinator Angela Bibens said. Many, if not all activists, including Archambault, have been strip-searched, and her firm calls the practice unwarranted and degrading.
“For these reasons, we believe the situation at Standing Rock deserves the immediate and full attention of the DOJ. Furthermore, the DOJ should impose an injunction to all developments at the pipeline site to keep all citizens – law enforcement and protestors – safe. The DOJ should be enlisted and expected to investigate the overwhelming reports and videos demonstrating clear strong-arm tactics, abuses and unlawful arrests by law enforcement.
“Preventing government agencies from stripping protestors and tribal members of their constitutional rights to organize and protect our sacred places and water is paramount to both U.S. citizens and tribal sovereignty.”