Saturday, November 26, 2016

Inhumane Treatment at Standing Rock


Inhumane Treatment at Standing Rock

Once again the Morton County Sheriff has used his office to spread lies and misinformation about the Water Protectors at Standing Rock. He claimed that his troops only used water cannons to “put out fires set by the protestors” #1. There were NO fires at the bridge! Once again he is using this as an excuse to call for over reaction by militarized police officers. 2. They act more like a militia than police officers.

I arrived at Standing Rock Sunday night, Nov. 20, 2016 after the action had all started and could not get to the bridge for security reasons so I went to the river bank to a place where I could see the action and shoot it with telephoto lenses. It was a surreal scene from where I was. I saw a couple of smaller fires set by protectors in a humanitarian effort to give aid to people soaked with water.
A small group held tarps up to shield the fire from the water cannons. It wasn’t a dangerous fire and at no time did the militia come under threat from the Water Protectors. It was one of the most inhumane scenes I have ever witnessed.

Temperatures dropped very quickly as soon as the sun set to well below freezing. By the end of the conflict it was in the 20’s but Morton County kept pouring the water to them. My photos show a line of people silhouetted against the bright lights and multiple sources of water being directed on them from more than one angle. The rest of the scene was dark and no fires at first.
Morton County and other police officers from around the country were called in to serve in the governor’s militia. They came with heavy armament used the water cannons as weapons against people who went to the bridge to pray for the water. Anything said by the sheriff to the contrary is absolutely false.

He also stated that his troops did not use concussion devices. False again. I saw them go off and heard them even from my position. After a bright white light and very loud explosion and shrieks of pain a young girl nearly lost her arm. She may still lose it if the doctors can’t repair it but it will never be the same. They had to take an artery from her leg and use it to repair the damage caused by the DAPL militia. Fragments of the device were removed for evidence. What evidence does the sheriff have to refute that but his discredited word?

Other devices were launched with a rifle launcher or mortar. I have photos seen here that show fire trails leaving the launcher and arcing through the air where they landed among the people on the ground.
You can see the smoke trails and clouds of smoke when they hit. Interestingly enough the weapons launched by the militia set small fires in the grass far outside the water canons reach but there was no action to try and put those fires out.

What I saw and photographed that night Sunday Nov. 20 looked more like a war zone than anything else. With canons firing gas canisters, flash grenades, and water cannons to blast people to the ground it took on an eerie battleground setting.

Morton County militia carried it to an even lower standard by targeting young people who were running in to retrieve the injured. Several people have told me of being shot in the legs while carrying people out of harms way. Shot with rubber bullets and beanbags that are supposed to be “less than lethal”. Firing into a crowd at night is dangerous and irresponsible because clear targets can’t really be seen. Shooting people who are running away carrying wounded is an inhumane act. Nearly 400 people were treated for injuries that night ranging from frostbite to explosion trauma to cardiac arrest. All of this was to protect an industrial investment over the rights of humans and international treaty.

I have one of the shields used on the line that night. There is a dry, yellow powder stuck to it that was either sprayed or stuck to it during one of the explosions. I will be taking samples of it to a lab to see just what this stuff is. An elder told me today that the ice in the creek where this took place is different colors. They polluted the creek with all of their chemicals and should also be held accountable for that.
The police are people we are supposed to be able to trust to uphold our rights as citizens. In North Dakota it is just not true if you are native and want to live in peace. This land still belongs to the Sioux Nation according to treaty. The part of it in question was taken by the Corps of Engineers to build Lake Oahe. Anyone living in the flood zone was told to leave without consultation or amendment to the treaty. The US Government used imminent domain law to steal it just as they have so many times. There has never been a treaty written with any native nation that has been honored. Every treaty has been broken.

Some want you to believe that this is just about a pipeline, which has been properly permitted and approved and the Water Protectors are just a bunch of riotous protestors who are out of control. It is far deeper than that. It’s about treaty rights that supercede US constitutional law. It is about the right to clean drinking water guaranteed to them for as long as the grass grows, the wind blows, and the river flows.

Over the months I have been here I have been to many of the actions. I can tell you first hand that no Water Protector goes on an action with any weapons. We go with drums, the Canupa (Sacred Pipe), songs and prayers. We have taken willow sprouts and planted them on the right of way, which is trespassing in their eyes but nit when you figure that the land was stolen from the Standing Rock Sioux in the first place.
Trespass is not a reason to mobilize federal troops, police from various cities and counties surrounding Standing Rock,, federal troops and I have even seen a game warden and park ranger called in to control peaceful people. Every act of violence I have sees has been incited by the governors militia in Morton County. He has political and financial ties to this project, which should be considered a conflict of interest. Not in North Dakota, where he has been successful in mobilizing an army headed up by a “jack booted thug” (his words) sheriff to protect his interest.

This has become without doubt, the most lawless operation I have ever seen perpetrated by law enforcement.


  1. Excellent John, and I can see that being a watcher has taken its toll on you also. Take Care.

  2. Thank you John. Important work. The world needs to know!

  3. Thank you John. Important work. The world needs to know!

  4. Thanks for this. Have heard a number of suggestions that the governor has financial ties to this project. Do you know where I can secure verified facts about this, as there are those who challenge this and I would like to be able to site actual data to prove the truth of it. I realize you have many more pressing things to attend to, but being able to prove the truth of this will greatly lend to the credibility of it all. It will be a powerful truth to circulate far and wide and will validate our reasoning of why this governor has apparently redifined the county and state police's mandate from being there to protect the people and the community to one of being there to support the corporation and fossil fuel industry.
    Would greatly appreciate any help or direction for research you can share. Thanks.

    1. I don't know about the N.Dakota governor, but our President-Elect has a pretty clear conflict of interest in this situation. The pipeline is being built by a Energy Transfer Partners, an outfit associated with Energy Transfer Crude Oil Company, LLC. President-Elect Trump is a shareholder in the stock of that company. The source of that information is the Financial Disclosure Statement that Trump had to file when he filed as a candidate. You will find a copy of that document, which is a public record, at

      The specific reference to Energy Transfer Partners is the very last entry on page 37 of the 104 page Financial Disclosure Form.

  5. Thank You John Please take care of yourself. We love You.

  6. Yet, another reason your my favorite Creekkeeper. Tell the story! You are in my prayers.