It was a stand off at Standing Rock.
Authorities would apparently like to quell voices of protestors opposing construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, and stifle journalists from covering the protest that’s taking place near the construction site within the same area several Native American tribes claim is sacred ground.
It started with international security guards attacking peaceful protestors with dogs and pepper spray.
Then the Bureau of Criminal Investigation cleared out journalists covering the violence by intimidating them with arrest warrants, charging renowned Democracy Now journalist Amy Goodman with criminal trespass for doing her job.
Her coverage of the event reached massive amounts of the public, which is something authorities apparently want to prevent, attempting to stonewall information being disseminated to the public with the assistance of Facebook.
Now, militarized police backed by National Guard personnel are intimidating protestors with armed police dressed in riot gear making mass arrests including about 20 journalists, medics and protestors opposing construction of the pipeline that destroyed sacred Native American burial sites earlier this month, which flared tempers of several Native American groups.
“They did this on a holiday weekend, one day after we filed court papers identifying these sacred sites,” Standing Rock Tribal Chairman David Archambault explained. “The desecration of these ancient places has already caused the Standing Rock Sioux irreparable harm.”
And that has led to some civil disobedience.
Police reportedly initiated the arrests in response to several protestors exercising civil disobedience by affixing themselves to equipment in an attempt to slow construction, and to have their say about what happens with the land as well.
About 100 riot police armed with assault rifles and other weapons arrived to one construction site yesterday.
“So they’re pointing at everyone with cameras saying, he’s going, she’s going,” a Unicorn Riot journalist recounted just before being arrested. “So, it seems like they’re targeting media for arrest. We might be getting arrested here.”
Approximately 20 people were arrested at the #NoDAPL lockdown site, including two Unicorn Riot journalists armed with cameras, as well as medics.
Police blocked roadway access to and from the site while they swept up protestors.
As arrests were being made, Facebook assisted law enforcement by censoring live stream video coverage by Unicorn Riot, the alternative media site on the front lines covering opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, which consists of members from around 200 tribes.
Dave Archambault, in an interview with Amy Goodman explained how the #NoDAPL protests went from being peaceful to seemingly not peaceful, and suggested law enforcement may be exaggerating their version of events.
“Law officials try to portray that they were attacked by an angry mob and it was a riot scene. But it—that was not what was taking place. We had protectors who were concerned about the land. And it just goes to show what kind of a company Energy Transfer Partners is. They have . . . they have zero policies on community relations, zero policy on human rights, zero policies on Indian rights, indigenous rights.”
“So, when a company is like that, they have no social responsibility, and they don’t care about anything. And they hire security companies with untrained handlers. And these handlers—the dogs were attacking the handlers. That’s why they released dogs into the crowd. And then they go and try to recover them. It just doesn’t make sense, and it’s not right, what this company, Energy Transfer Partners, is doing. They say they have every right to be there. But so do we.”
The State of North Dakota apparently thinks journalists don’t have the right to be on land. On September 8, special agent Lindsay Wold sought a warrant, which was granted, against Democracy Now! journalist Amy Goodman, who video recorded security forces using dogs to attack protestors. Democracy Now’s coverage was viewed 13 million times, just on Facebook alone.
A warrant for prominent activist and media spokesperson Charles Cody Hall was also issued, and he was held throughout the weekend without bail.
Baher Azmy the Center for Constitutional Rights‘ Legal Director said, “this is clearly a violation of the First Amendment–an attempt to repress this important political movement by silencing media coverage.”
And now it appears to be an attempt to repress the movement by silencing protestors.
Or anyone with a camera.
Last week, a federal court sided with the construction company, Energy Transfer Partners, ruling to allowing them to continue construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline.
But the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of the Army overruled the court’s decision and placed a temporary halt on construction of the pipeline,which is on Army Corps of Engineering lands.
Their statement says the decision will take effect until the Army “can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws,” according to Anti-Media.
However that apparently means the DOJ proposed a voluntary halt until things could get sorted out. As a reader points out, Energy Transfer Partners is still laying pipe after the halt was proposed.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) September 13, 2016