12 people hospitalized, another 200 injured as North Dakota police use water cannons, rubber bullets on #NoDAPL supporters
APTN National News, November 21, 2016
Twelve people are in hospital and another 200 were injured after anti-pipeline demonstrators clashed with local and state police in North Dakota who used pepper spray, rubber bullets, and water cannons in freezing temperatures on hundreds of #NoDAPL supporters who call themselves water protectors.
That’s according to a release send early Monday morning by Indigenous Rising media and statistics from Oceti Sakowin Medic team.
The Morton County Sheriff’s Department issued a statement on its Facebook page claiming the water protectors had “started a dozen fires near the bridge.” The statement said there were about 400 people at the site “attempting to breach the bridge to go north on Hwy 1806.”
But according to APTN reporters on location, the only fire on the bridge was a small bonfire used by people to stay warm. People gathered around a larger bonfire which was lit on the north bank of the Cantapeta Creek to the right of the Backwater Bridge facing the barricades. Authorities aimed a water cannon at that bonfire but it was not powerful enough to reach it.
Water protectors described a different scenario than the one issued by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department on what began Sunday’s events.
Police unleashed the water cannons after a group of about half a dozen men earlier in the evening managed to tow away the charred remains of one of two military cargo trucks left alongside the barricade erected on Oct. 27.
That barricade was erected after police and troopers from several states and counties pushed the water protectors out from a camp set up north of the Oceti Sakowin Camp.
This is the latest round of clashes between water protectors and authorities as all sides await a decision from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers on whether to grant Houston-based Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access LLC, an easement to run the pipeline under Lake Oahe, a reservoir on the Missouri River.
The Dakota Access pipeline has been built to the edge of the lake and the construction site is protected by recently erected walls. The company is allowed to drill about 60 metres down into the ground by the water, but can’t drill horizontally until the Army Corp grants the easement.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe are currently awaiting word from the Army Corps of Engineers to begin meetings to discuss why the easement shouldn’t be granted and, if granted, what conditions should be attached.
This is the believed to be the last step of a review of the project which was announced in September by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama after Standing Rock failed to obtain an injunction against pipeline construction with the U.S. Federal Court.
The Army Corp of Engineers only has jurisdiction over the pipeline’s path directly adjacent to and under Lake Oahe.
Standing Rock and Cheyenne River say the oil pipeline threatens the area’s water supply.
The proposed 1,886 kilometre pipeline is slated to pump about 500,000 barrels of oil per day from the Bakken shale fields in North Dakota, through South Dakota and Iowa to Illinois.
The pipeline traverses Standing Rock’s treaty territory established in the 1869 Treaty of Fort Laramie.
Standing Rock pipeline protesters repelled by force at bridge crossing
Video shows water cannon, tear gas, fired at protesters, who police estimated numbered about 400
The Associated Press, November 21, 2016
Tensions flared anew on the Dakota Access pipeline as protesters tried to push past a long-blocked bridge on a state highway only to be turned back by a line of law enforcement using a water cannon and tear gas.
Sunday’s skirmishes in Cannonball, N.D., began around 6 p.m. after protesters tried to remove a burned-out truck on what’s known as the Backwater Bridge so that local traffic can move freely again.
The bridge is not far from the encampment where they’ve been for weeks as they demonstrate against the pipeline. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department estimated 400 protesters sought to cross the bridge on state Highway 1806.
A live stream early Monday showed a continued standoff, with large lights illuminating smoke wafting across the scene.
The sheriff’s department said in a statement around 1 a.m. Monday that approximately 100 to 200 protesters were on the bridge or in the vicinity. It said law enforcement officers “had rocks thrown at them, burning logs and rocks shot from slingshots,” and that one officer had been hit on the head by a thrown rock.
Supporter Leland Brenholt said at least four people suffered wounds from rubber bullets. He said other protesters were hit with canisters in the chest and legs.
One protester showed his swollen hand on social media and said he was among those struck by rubber bullets.
A man helping organize the protests said about 180 protesters were injured in the latest skirmish with police. Dallas Goldtooth with the Indigenous Environmental Network said at least 17 people were taken to hospitals.
He said police turned the water on people while temperatures were below freezing and called it “an excessive and potentially deadly use of force.”
At least one person was arrested. Protesters said a gym in Cannon Ball was opened to aid demonstrators who were soaked and exposed to chemical irritants.
Rema Loeb told The Associated Press he was forced to retreat from the bridge because he feared being doused with water on the freezing night. Others, he said, needed medical treatment after being hit with tear gas.
“It’s been just horrible,” said the 83-year-old Loeb, who travelled from Massachusetts about two weeks ago to join the protests.
Nearby gym opened for protesters
The 1,900-kilometre, four-state pipeline is being built to carry oil from western North Dakota to a shipping point in Illinois. But construction of the $3.8-billion US pipeline has been protested for months by the Standing Rock Sioux, whose reservation lies near the pipeline route, and the tribe’s allies, who fear a leak could contaminate their drinking water.
Two months ago, tribe officials said construction crews had removed topsoil on burial and cultural sites along the path of the proposed pipeline.
Energy Transfer Partners has said no sites have been disturbed and that the pipeline will have safeguards against leaks, and is a safer method of transport for oil than rail or truck. The company has said the pipeline is largely complete except for the section under Lake Oahe.
The bridge lies near where protesters had set up camp on private property owned by the pipeline developer, Energy Transfer Partners, before they were forcibly removed by law enforcement Oct. 27. It’s also about a mile from an uncompleted section under Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir, where work has been on hold by order of federal agencies.
Tara Houska, an organizer with Honor the Earth, told the Bismarck Tribune that the Cannon Ball gym was opened to aid people who had been doused with water or tear gas.
Phone calls to the sheriff’s department late Sunday went to an answering machine.
On Friday, Kelcy Warren, the chief executive of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, said the company is unwilling to reroute the pipeline.