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