After events this weekend, which included the arrest of 127 #NoDAPL organizers, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is formally requesting that the Department of Justice investigate the alleged law enforcement abuses against Dakota Access Pipeline opponents, according to a statement sent to Colorlines.
In a letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II writes:
[T]he exercise of First Amendment rights is being jeopardized by state and local law enforcement. We have seen local law enforcement fail to protect our people, as private security for Dakota Access used dogs and pepper spray to attack Indian people opposed to the pipeline. And local law enforcement allowed this to happen.
The chairman called on the DOJ this past weekend to impose an injunction to pipeline construction, but this letter creates an official call to investigate the separate issue of police abuses.
The situation has slowly escalated since Dakota Access opponents set up the first anti-pipeline camp in April. As the chairman noted in his letter, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalyrymple activated the National Guard in September, military vehicles are frequently at #NoDAPL actions and officers have used pepper spray and dogs to intimidate organizers.
The chairman’s letter also states:
To many people, the military tactics being used in North Dakota are reminiscent of the tactics used against protesters during the civil rights movement some 50 years ago. And I believe that there are similarities there. But to us, there is an additional collective memory that comes to mind. This country has a long and sad history of using military force against indigenous people –including the Sioux Nation. I would like to think that those days are past –and that today Tribal rights cannot be ignored and military force cannotbe used to suppress Indian people. But when I see the militarization taking place in North Dakota against Indian people, I am genuinely concerned.