Police, National Guard march on barricade near Standing Rock’s Treaty Camp; activists hold the line
By C.S. Hagen
CANNONBALL – Hundreds of heavily-armed law enforcement officials marched on activists at their “Treaty Camp” Thursday morning.
“Hold the line, be brave,” an activist called out.
A massive fire was set at the activists’ frontline barricade on Highway 1806. Thick black smoke billowed toward approaching police, halting their advance. Two more barricades were setup further south; the third built along a county road number 134 to prevent or slow down a flanking maneuver.
The law enforcement from “numerous city, county, and state agencies” arrived with a Bearcat, bulldozers, armored vehicles, and they called out to the activists, who refused to move. National Guard and Humvees were seen on nearby hilltops.
“Everyone move down, we will not hurt you,” an officer shouted through a megaphone. Attempts were made to negotiate. “Move south one hundred yards so we can put the fire out. Let’s start from there.”
The activists responded with a resounding no.
“Hold the lines. Hold the lines.”
“They’re going to hurt people,” a female activist said through her tears.
“Don’t be afraid,” another activist consoled.
The sonic gun blasted a second time.
“It hurts,” Dallas Goldtooth said. Goldtooth is a campaign organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network, and posted live feed to his Facebook page. He reported National Guard units were at the site; two Humvees were parked on a nearby western hill.
“They’re using signals to jam our connection,” Goldtooth said. He stood at the frontline barricade. Police to the west protected Dakota Access Workers, who were digging furiously toward the easement three miles away from the Missouri River. So far the easement has been declared off limits by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Razor wire was strung along Highway 1806, overlooking the pipeline’s pathway, according to live feed videos posted on Facebook.
The activists defending the first barricade were prepared with earplugs, logs, and cars, tires slashed. They formed human barricades behind the bonfire, arms locked, refusing to move.
As of 1 p.m. Thursday, no arrests have been officially reported. Activists report arrests began around 2:30 p.m. Some activists were attempting to outrun DAPL security and police to lock themselves to DAPL machinery, according to the Sarah Sunshine Manning.
“Thursday morning at 11:15 authorities began taking steps to remove the illegal roadblocks and protesters trespassing on private property near Highway 1806,” a Morton County Sheriff’s Department press release stated.
The Treaty Camp is the site two miles from the Missouri River along Highway 1806 on land the Dakota Access Pipeline formally owns. On Sunday, October 23, activists reclaimed the land under their own declaration of eminent domain. The Treaty Camp is located on the Dakota Access Pipeline right of way on property that was formerly known as Cannon Ball Ranch, according to Morton County Sheriff’s Department.
Activists also responded to Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier’s declaration that the Standing Rock’s position was unlawful.
“They say ‘You can’t just come in and take over someone’s land…’” a Facebook post from the Sacred Stone Camp reported. “We were here first. And you picked the wrong place for this battle. We are Lakotas/Dakotas, the last warriors who stood up to the U.S. government.”
From New York, the tribe’s chairman also delivered a message of support.
“The camp is at the point where the pipe has to cross Highway 1806, and the law enforcement, the government, and the state is saying you cannot occupy that space,” Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II said. “It’s causing a potential conflict. The company, Dakota Access Pipeline, is pressing on forward, even though there was an ask by the three agencies, departments of Army, and Interior, Justice. They continue to construct no matter what.
“What we’re seeing is a lot of law enforcement presence, I would say hundreds of law enforcement. Morton County has called in resources from all over.”
“I can’t stress enough,” Kirchmeier said. “This is a public safety issue. We cannot have protesters blocking county roads, blocking state highways, or trespassing on private property.”
Despite the inconveniences to local residents, many ranchers and farmers have stopped by to offer the activists assistance, many activists report. Some have brought wood for fires; others have expressed respect for the cause.
Morton County State’s Attorney has also filed charges against two activists who allegedly attacked Phelim McAleer and crew on October 18. McAleer says he is a journalist, but is known as a pro-oil public relations agitator, and “professional character assassin.” The suspects, Kareen Lewis and James White, face class C felony charges.