Yesterday (October 27), officers from at least five states—North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming and Nebraska—seized the latest camp built by opponents to the Dakota Access Pipeline. There were numerous arrests, as well as reported violence by officers against animals. The 1851 Treaty Camp was created Sunday, October 23, near the Cannonball River in North Dakota.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) October 27, 2016
Between 200 to 300 militarized police officers, eight all-terrain vehicles, five armored vehicles and two helicopters were on scene, according to the Sacred Stone Camp website. Police wearing riot gear arrested 141 people, the Guardian reports, as well as pepper sprayed, shot beanbag pellets and beat occupiers with batons, as seen in several videos posted to Facebook. The confrontation occurred after officers asked that water protectors retreat south and leave behind the camp, and they refused. Though Energy Transfer, the company building the pipeline, bought this land, the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires of the Sioux) are citing an 1851 treaty to claim that this land is rightfully theirs.
Organizers had initially established three blockades with cars, tires, wood and other items to prevent law enforcement from entering the camp, but it proved to only be a temporary solution. Water protectors also lit a blockade on fire to prevent police from approaching.
According to the Sacred Stone Cap website:
A prayer circle of elders, including several women, was interrupted and all were arrested for standing peacefully on the public road. A tipi was erected in the road and was recklessly dismantled, despite promises from law enforcement that they would merely mark the tipi with a yellow ribbon and ask its owners to retrieve it. A group of water protectors was also dragged out of a ceremony in a sweat lodge erected in the path of the pipeline, wearing minimal clothing, thrown to the ground, and arrested.
In addition to people, water protectors say that officers also injured their horses with rubber bullets. One horse did not survive, the camp reports.
This event happened on the same day a federal court jury acquitted seven White Oregon men of all charges for leading an armed militia in a 41-day standoff with law enforcement in January—a parallel Indigenous Environmental Network campaign organizer Dallas Goldtooth highlighted in a post on his Facebook page. “The racial undertones of yesterday’s actions cannot be ignored,” he wrote. “Armed white men stand off against police in Oregon: Acquitted. Unarmed water protectors in North Dakota: Concussion grenades, rubber bullets and batons.”