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September 14, 2016 – Today, 3 more individuals locked themselves to equipment at an active construction site just west of Bismarck. This followed the actions from yesterday morning, when 2 water protectors locked themselves to heavy equipment to stop work at two active pipeline construction sites northwest of Mandan. One worker pepper sprayed one of the water protectors before leaving the scene. Law enforcement responded in full riot gear with semi-automatic weapons and arrested 22 people, all unarmed, including medics, journalists, and legal observers. One of the individuals was locked onto the machine for nearly 7 hours.
Yesterday, the first 15 arrestees from the resistance camps near the Standing Rock Reservation attended arraignment hearings in Bismarck, ND. All were charged in early August in some of the region’s first demonstrations to stop the Dakota Access pipeline. All pled not guilty and pre-trial conference dates were set for December.
The Morton County Jail informed the Camp’s legal team that the ND States Attorney, Al Koppy, had ordered that only a North Dakota licensed attorney could visit the jailed water protectors, which is a violation of their constitutional right to counsel of their choosing for initial consultation. Fifteen individuals were eventually released on bond in the evening, and a bond hearing is scheduled for the other 7 at 1 p.m. today, September 14th, at Morton County Court House in Mandan, ND.
The joint statement from three federal agencies last week extended the emergency temporary restraining order that prevents construction at the river crossing itself, until this Friday September 16th. It also asked Dakota Access, LLC to voluntarily stop construction on the area 20 miles east and 20 miles west of Lake Oahe.
LaDonna Allard, Section 106 Historic Preservation Officer for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, says, “We are told it is our right to stand up if there is injustice in America but when we do we are attacked as North Dakota spend its dollars to protect an oil company rather than protecting the people from destruction of their lands and water. Where is the Justice?”
“This was an absurd and overzealous usage of force by North Dakota law enforcement,” said Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “Such blatant disregard for the safety and legal rights of unarmed water protectors should not and will not go unnoticed. And yet, this inappropriate behavior by police will not deter our peaceful struggle to stop this pipeline.”
Tara Houska, National Campaigns Director of Honor the Earth, speaking from a rally in D.C. of over 3,000 people including Bernie Sanders said “According to Dakota Access, they can treat us as less than human beings – they can sic dogs and use mace on Native American women and children trying to protect our sacred sites. But the world is watching.” Jasilyn Charger of the Oceti Sakowin Youth Runners also addressed the crowd saying “Right now, there are almost five thousand people in Standing Rock- and growing by the day- all willing to lay down their lives to protect our water.”
“These non-violent direct actions are part of a long-term commitment to prevent the contested Dakota Access Pipeline from entering into the ground, which water protectors (both indigenous and non-native allies) see as a raping of Mother Earth, ” said a statement released on behalf of the Red Warrior Camp.