From December 4 – 7, perhaps longer, over 2,000 veterans, an initiative called Veterans Stand for Standing Rock, intend serving as nonviolent human shields for Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protestors – Sioux Tribe members and supporters calling themselves water protectors.
Participating veterans resolved to defend them from “assault an intimidation at the hands of the militarized police force,” they said.
Last Monday, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple ordered immediate evacuation of the Oceti Sacowan camp – on the pretext of “anticipated harsh weather conditions.”
Protesters remain steadfast. Dalrymple threatened fines and blocked access to essential services, then backed off from the threat.
Sioux Tribe members claim land rights under the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty. Washington stole it along with other Native American land nationwide.
Since last spring, protestors and supporters demonstrated nonviolently against environmentally destructive pipeline construction, discussed in previous articles.
They don’t intend backing off, resolved to protect the sacred ancestral land. Likely speaking for others, one protestor said they’re “not planning on going nowhere until we accomplish what we came here to do.”
On Facebook, veterans said they’re coming to “support our country,” wanting to “stop this savage injustice being committed right here at home.”
According to federal officials, anyone remaining in the Oceti Sacowan encampment may face trespassing charges.
As of Tuesday, an online fundraiser drew pledges exceeding $570,000 – to pay for winterizing the camp, food, transportation and other supplies.
Oglala Lakota/Northern Arapaho Native American US army veteran Black Shawl said “OK, are you going to treat us veterans who have served our country in the same way as you have those water protectors?”
“We’re not there to create chaos. We are there because we are tired of seeing the water protectors being treated as non-humans.”
They’re victims of police state harshness, attacked with water cannons, rubber-coated steel bullets, pepper spray, tear gas and other abusive practices, injuring hundreds.
On Monday, the Water Protector Legal Collective, a National Lawyers Guild initiative, filed a class-action lawsuit against militarized Morton County police and others, claiming excessive use of force, seeking a court injunction to stop it.
A Veterans Stand for Standing Rock operations order said in part:
“In response to the assertion of treaty rights, citizen rights, tribal rights, and protection of the most valuable of resources – water – the Sioux tribes and allied comrades are under sustained assault by agents working for private interests under the color of law.”
“First Americans have served in the United States Military, defending the soil of our homelands, at a greater percentage than any other group of Americans.”
“There is no other people more deserving of veteran support and this situation encapsulates whether we are called heroes for violence and cashing paychecks, or for justice and morality.”
Veterans will have a “chain of responsibility,” not a chain of command, no ranks recognized, participants referring to each other by name only. “We are the cavalry,” their operations order said.
Sioux spokesman Dave Archambault II said “(e)veryone that comes knows our intent – to remain in peace and prayer.”