Standing Rock, North Dakota(Pontiac)— As police violence escalates in camps erected by protesters and water protectors, Morton County completes a spicy investigation. The inquiry looked into the highly publicized dog attacks by DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline) contractors which were reported by Democracy Now. As it turns out, those individuals were entirely unlicensed.
An arrest warrant found reporter Amy Goodman days after her team filmed the vicious attacks by contractors. Though it was cause to celebrate when Amy’s charges were dropped, prosecutors aren’t giving up. Hers were also just the first of many charges filed against numerous journalists at Standing Rock. One of the dogs Democracy Now filmed already had blood dripping from it’s mouth and nose before it’s handler provoked it further.
Shortly after the attacks, Goodman interviewed law enforcement K9 expert Jonnie Joyce, who was disgusted. “What I witnessed was absolutely horrific”, she said, feeling “the handlers were not trained properly.” Joyce was even skeptical as to whether the dogs themselves were prepared for the action they were forced into.
The attacks even attracted the attention of Amnesty International USA, which called for the Morton County investigation. Resistance at Standing Rock stems from the pipeline’s routing through sacred indigenous lands. Environmental concerns, particularly regarding access to clean drinking water, have been repeatedly raised during protests. For expressing their first amendment rights, protesters and water protectors have been subjected to a brutal crackdown by state authorities.
Hundreds of officers, many from other states, have flooded the reserve to repress the resistance. Several military-style raids have been conducted to date, with hundreds of arrests reported. Protesters have been brutalized, pepper-sprayed, and dragged off by rifle wielding officers, some in camo. Surveillance planes, helicopters, and drones fly overhead as military MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) trucks drive about. Contractors stalk protesters in unmarked trucks without license plates, and use of a sound cannon was recently reported.
Democracy Now recently covered a contractor who’d been caught by protesters attempting to “infiltrate” their group. The man, who wore a red bandanna over his face, pointed an AR-15 rifle as water protectors surrounded him.
After authorities arrested the man, a car search recovered a DAPL security card with his face and name. Insurance papers also linking the man to the corporation were also found and photographed. Although it’s unknown what his exact intention was, many say he was tasked with surveillance and possibly escalating tensions between activists and police.
Water protectors also reported a brush fire near their camp which was started through unknown means. Protestors did note, however, that the drones and planes which flew above for weeks disappeared two hours beforehand. Thus, activists fear the fires may have been started by DAPL contractors working alongside state authorities to escalate violence. When protesters called 911, they claimed no help would come. This incident is similar to the burning of construction equipment, which remains unexplained.
President Obama’s stance on the pipeline is unclear, and many are skeptical of his support. Despite his request that construction halt, DAPL has coldly declined building it’s billion dollar project. Every day the company makes its way closer to the river which activists have been sacrificing to protect. All the meanwhile, Obama has repeatedly approved two other pipelines as the world trains it’s focus on North Dakota.
According to EcoWatch, the two Texan projects–The Trans-Pesco and Comanche Trail–spearheaded by a corporation attached to DAPL. By approving the projects, the federal government has locked in Mexico for fracking and other questionable practices. Ironically, these pipelines, like the Dakota Access project, gets its name from Native American culture.
Despite the highly reported repression of the protests, news on Dakota Access is coming so quickly few can keep up. There are so many angles to explain, escalations to describe, and international interest to relay. We must keep up, however, and push to make sure the world maintains its right to know exactly what’s going on in Standing Rock.