Standing Rock activists march on Veterans Day, halt DAPL construction, 33 arrested, total arrested nears 450
By C.S. Hagen
CANNONBALL – Standing Rock activists marched on three locations early Friday morning Veterans Day, shutting down highways and rural roads, law enforcement report. A fourth march shut down Highway 6 north of St. Anthony Friday afternoon.
Approximately 30 activists were arrested, North Dakota Highway Patrol Lt. Tom Iverson said. Morton County Sheriff’s Department reported a total of 33 arrested. Work along the Dakota Access Pipeline was halted.
Law enforcement responded to reports at Backwater Bridge, where two burned-out DAPL trucks remain blocking Highway 1806, to a second location where the pipeline crosses Highway 6 south of Mandan, and to a barricade at the intersection of county roads 135 and 81, Iverson said.
“There’s a lot of things going on today,” Iverson said. “To be honest, I don’t know why they chose today, other than the fact that they do these things quite often. I do think it is quite embarrassing for them to do such things on Veterans Day, and quite frankly, they are criminal acts today, a slap in the face to all veterans. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”
Iverson reported six law enforcement vehicle tires were slashed, Dakota Access Pipeline equipment was vandalized – windows were smashed, engine lines cut, graffiti was spray-painted.
“Protesters also attempted to attack an officer with a stake, slashed tires on law enforcement vehicles, and caused damage to construction equipment,” Morton County Sheriff’s Department reported. Highway 6 was closed, 12 vehicles belonging to activists and law enforcement were towed.
“One man, wearing goggles, approached officers in a threatening manner,” Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said in a press release. “The individual had a stake and started to swing it at an officer. The officer responded using pepper spray to keep the individual from the police line. That individual was arrested.”
A November 1, 2016 report made public by the United Nations Chief Edward John, an expert member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, says the situation is quickly resembling a war zone.
“The United States, as a demonstration of its recent commitments to protect against human rights violations, must live up to its international human rights commitments with respect to indigenous peoples and swiftly reverse its current approach of criminalizing indigenous human rights defenders – those standing up for their solemn treaty rights to lands, territories and resources and their inalienable human rights,” the report stated.
“The US must fulfill its trust responsibility and fiduciary obligations. The United States has a legal obligation and “has charged itself with moral obligations of the highest responsibility and trust’ toward Indian tribes in the United States, including the Standing Rock Sioux… especially when their lives and their cultural integrity is at stake.
“Clearly, US laws and international instruments recognize and must assure their survival as indigenous peoples and their dignity and well-being. No one should ignore, be indifferent nor run roughshod over these.”
Most of the arrests stemmed from a blockade created at the intersection of county roads 135 and 81, Morton County Sheriff’s Department reported. “Officers believe this roadblock was set up to prevent law enforcement’s response to Highway 6. Officers ordered the individuals to remove the barricade, they refused, and approximately 30 people were arrested.”
“Some people need to look up the word peaceful in the dictionary,” Iverson said. “You can’t break the law and engage in criminal acts and claim it’s peaceful.”
DAPL workers were spotted covering up pipeline already laid east of Highway 6 early Friday morning, according to the Indigenous Environmental Network. Approximately 100 activists hurried to the scene and stopped two backhoes before the rest of the workers retreated east, toward Highway 1806, along the pipeline route.
“It’s just stopping them, stalling them, when they’ve already been asked by the Obama Administration, by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and they’re just disregarding everything,” the Indigenous Environmental Network reported.
One DAPL backhoe spun circles as activists approached from Highway 6, video footage revealed. A radio tuned into the DAPL workers frequency caught snippets of conversation between the pipeline employees.
“They ain’t shuttin’ me down, somebody is fixing to get hurt,” a DAPL worker said.
“We need to go up there and slash every one of them damn tires up there,” another DAPL employee said.
“We’re just trying to put Mother Earth back.”
“They don’t care about that.”
“Those dumb sh*ts are trying to jump on a moving tractor.”
“Let ‘em do it, let ‘em do it.”
The marches came days after Energy Transfer Partners was requested by President Obama’s Administration, and by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to cease construction. The Dakota Access Pipeline, nearly finished, lacks an easement to cross the Missouri River at Lake Oahe.
Recently, Energy Transfer Partners, Dakota Access LLC’s parent company, and North Dakota’s politicians whose campaigns have been supported by Bakken oil interested parties, Senator John Hoeven R-N.D., and Congressman Kevin Cramer R-N.D., have been applying pressure to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to authorize the easement needed to dig under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe.
Earlier this week, Energy Transfer Partners issued a statement saying in two weeks time, now approximately 10 days, the company will be drilling under the Missouri River. Already, horizontal drilling equipment is being hauled to the drill pad north of Oceti Sakowin, or Seven Council Fires camp, less than a quarter mile from the river. Energy Transfer Partners also reprimanded the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers demanding it rescind a statement that Dakota Access Pipeline had agreed to halt construction.
On Thursday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers struck back, saying a winter camp for Standing Rock and its supporters will be provided. The Corps asked DAPL a second time to voluntarily cease operations, but the company did not listen, the report stated.
As the numbers of arrested activists defending Standing Rock, its lands, and its waters, nears 450 in total, politicians, the military, and tribal leaders are attempting to find a solution. Last week, President Obama said a reroute of the pipeline should be on the table for discussion.
Most of Friday’s arrested were charged with obstruction of a government function, according to Morton County Sheriff’s Department. The situation on Highway 6 was reported as ongoing late Friday afternoon.