North Dakota State highway patrol officers in riot gear and armed with assault rifles arrested 22 people yesterday (September 13) under trespassing charges during a direct action against the proposed 1,172-mile-long Dakota Access Pipeline. Protectors, the term the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe prefer over “protestors,” had locked themselves to equipment at two construction sites.
Two of those arrested were journalists with independent news outlet Unicorn Riot, which has been on the ground covering the pipeline since April 2016. “So [police are] pointing at everyone with cameras saying, he’s going, she’s going, so it seems like they’re targeting media for arrest,” said a journalist with Unicorn Riot during his live stream of the event. “We might be getting arrested here.”
This is now the second reported account of authorities targeting media. On September 12, Morton County issued an arrest warrent for Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman. Medics were also arrested yesterday, according to several reports from camps leading the movement against the pipeline.
Estimates from the Sacred Stone Camp Facebook page claim that 50 to 60 riot police were on the scene. However, Unicorn Riot reported that there were one hundred. Morton County and Mercer County sheriffs and police were also on site, according to Unicorn Riot footage.
The increase in police action has not stopped pipeline opponents. More direct action is continuing today (September 14) with three “warriors” locked to excavators. There will also be prayers and chanting on the construction site. “It’s a new day for Indigenous people,” one unidentified man said on a live stream posted to the Sacred Stone Camp Facebook page.
Yesterday was not the first time Sioux people and other opponents to the Dakota Access Pipeline were arrested. As Colorlines reported in August, Morton County Police Department arrested a dozen men and women for disorderly conduct or criminal trespass.