Upon arrival, the police forces, armed with military-style weapons and vehicles, aggressively closed in on protesters, beating and pepper spraying men, women, youth, and elders. Injuries were reported by people on the frontline, as peaceful demonstrators were tackled and separated from their groups. The police squads continued to push back with batons and assault rifles. A large number of ‘protectors’ headed back to the camping site, after being told that they were going to be arrested if they stayed. When they attempted to leave, however, they found that the police had encircled the area, trapping them, and began arresting every single individual on sight.
This was also the case across from the courthouse in Mandan when Amy Goodman was there. The police had placed vehicles on either side of the demonstrators as they prayed and chanted “Water is Life”. Nobody had threatened them, but they had on helmets and billy clubs. They continually videotaped the demonstrators, sweeping up and down the line; and when they realized the demonstrators were also videotaping them, at least one put a scarf over half of his face.
In addition to the group of civilians arrested, police rounded up journalists and reporters, prompting accusations that they have actively attempted to stifle the freedom of the press, protected under the First Amendment.
Amy Goodman being one of them. However, as she was speaking to the crowd, several of the Native folk asked her about what happens to them? Will her attorneys help them get the charges dropped…? She did not address their questions.
Here is a Native perspective on the protest.
So when you talk about Standing Rock, please begin by acknowledging that this pipeline was redirected from an area where it was most likely to impact the residents of Bismarck, North Dakota. When Bismarck’s population — which is over 90 percent white — objected to the risks the pipeline posed to their drinking water, their concerns were accommodated, and the pipeline route was shifted into treaty lands.
This is huge. And I’m sure that police didn’t show up in riot gear and using helicopters, attack dogs, pepper spray, and ear-splitting noise devices to force the white population to acquiesce.
It is really shameful to do this to the Native folk.
And it’s not lost on me that Indiana is now sending police to quell the public’s 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech, assembly, religion, and the press.