I haven’t written in a while and it’s partly because I’ve been incredibly busy and partly because I’ve just had nothing of interest to write about. Well, that’s changed…not the busy part, but the writing part.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few weeks, I’m sure you’ve heard about 3 things…all the Hilary vs. Donald rhetoric, Glenn and Abraham were Negan’s victims on The Walking Dead, and the Standing Rock Sioux tribe is protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. It’s this last one that is weighing heavily on my heart these days.
I understand all about Native rights. I have some personal experience in this area. The people of Standing Rock have every right to protest peacefully and lawfully. Unfortunately, that’s not what’s happening here, and the people of Standing Rock are not the problem. The protests have been going on for nearly 3 months here, but it’s only the last 2 weeks or so that DAPL has received national attention. But there’s so much that national media is not saying, so much they’re leaving out, and so much untruth that they’re spreading, I just feel like I have to get this all off my chest.
Let’s start at the beginning with a breakdown of protesters’ complaints:
- Water is life, and this oil pipeline will endanger water sources. OK, yes, we all need water, but reality is that we do not yet have enough renewable energy sources to power the world. Pipelines are 4.5 times safer means of transport than trains and even more so than tanker trucks. Do leaks happen, yes they do, but DAPL is being built using the most high tech solution available to date. Sensors ever so many feet (I’d have to go look it up again in the specs, but I think it was every 15) that would quickly detect leaks, alert authorities, and automatically shut down. Additionally, the pipeline does NOT go over the water. It is being placed 90 feet below the bottom of the river bed through bedrock. In the event of a leak, gravity and sheer distance from the water through a solid barrier would keep the oil from contaminating water sources in the time it took to respond. Every effort has been taken to protect the water and DAPL has gone over and above national regulations and requirements to ensure safety. And do you really think this is the only pipeline crossing a river?
- The pipeline is disrupting sacred artifacts and burial grounds. Untrue. The entire pipeline has been inspected and reinspected by archiologists, historians, and environmentalists. It was even inspected again about a month ago after the most recent complaints and accusations. No artifacts or human remains have been found on any of the land impacted by the pipeline. Which leads to…
- The reason they didn’t find any is because they have been destroyed. If that’s true, they were destroyed 30 years ago when (in 1986) another pipeline was built along the same route that DAPL will follow. But again, inspections back then showed nothing present. Regardless, yes, there’s already a pipeline there. And it follows the EXACT same path that DAPL will follow including the river crossing.
- Standing Rock was not included in planning and decision making for DAPL. Again, untrue. The tribe was invited to participate in planning meetings and other parts of the process no less than 300 times…and they ignored every invitation. Multiple other organizations attended, voiced their concerns, and the committee addressed issues with groups advocating for trees, wildlife, structure impact, erosion, noise pollution…etc. etc. etc. Every concern was addressed, the pipeline was ultimately approved by all involved and the permits were issued. Contracts were signed with all land owners whose land would be impacted by the pipeline. The route of the pipeline was changed in response to concerns, which leads to…
- DAPL was rerouted because it would impact too many white communities. I supposed this could be considered partially true, but not for the reason you think. They’re saying that white communities (Bismarck) wanted it rerouted because, if there was a leak, it would effect our water sources…no, that’s not it. It was moved south closer to the reservation (the pipeline does NOT actually cross reservation land in any area) to accomplish 2 things: 1) to shorten the pipeline by 11 miles thus disrupting a smaller area of land and 2) the route further north would have caused DAPL to remove multiple existing buildings and other structures. The current route is across farm land.
So, those are the main concerns of the Standing Rock tribe. The protest site was set up (legally with permits) back in late July and the protesters were primarily peaceful. Yes, there were a few skirmishes, but these were quickly dealt with. (The dog attack thing back in August was completely blown out of proportion. The only one injured in that was one of the DOGS. Don’t know if you saw the picture of the dog with the bloody muzzle…yeah, that was dog’s blood. He was hit in the face with a pipe by one of the protesters.) The real problems didn’t start until all of the out of state protesters started flocking in.
A few weeks ago, several protesters decided that their current camp wasn’t near enough to the actual construction site, so the camp was moved several miles further north. The problem with this was that they were moving the camp onto private property (illegal) and started blocking public roadways (also illegal). The landowner made a request to law enforcement that the protesters be removed.
Law enforcement also asked several times over several weeks for the protesters to clear the public roadway. Again, blocking a public roadway is illegal. School buses were unable to run through the area. Ambulance and other first responders (most live in Bismarck including my friend who is a paramedic on the reservation and who personally experiences this every time she has to drive to work) could not get to and from work without going 45 miles out of their way, and could not respond when needed without huge (often life-threatening) delays. Residents (farmers and ranchers) could not reach their own homes, livestock or fields without going miles out of their way.
The response to law enforcement requests was an ever escalating “screw you” that became a situation that was clearly not peaceful prayer. It was a full fledged riot. If a group of rioters took over an area in a city, you’d expect law enforcement to respond, right? Just because this was in country makes no difference. Again, these people were on private property and blocking a public roadway.
So, this all came to a head last week when law enforcement was authorized to clear the camp “by any means necessary”. The first warnings were issued at 8:00am October 27 telling protesters that they had one hour to begin clearing the camp. Reinforcements were brought by buses to help with the removal because there were literally hundreds of protesters occupying this area. Instead of complying, by 9:00am the protesters converged on the road. Throughout the day, things escalated, fires were started (including 2 military dump trucks and a construction bulldozer), debri was thrown (feces, sticks, rocks, etc.) and still law enforcement did not respond. They patiently tried to get folks to move to the south camp. Unfortunately, the protesters would not move, would not unblock the road, and so around noon (4 hours later) they went in to start making arrests. The sonic siren was used as a crowd control method…painful, yeah, but non-lethal. As they started arresting people, one woman was on the ground and the officer was trying to hand-cuff her…she reached into her waistband and pulled a revolver. She fired 3 shots in the direction of both law enforcement and the protester…she had no idea what she was shooting at, she was just shooting. At this point, this is where it sounds like the rubber bullets (again, painful, but non-lethal) were fired by law enforcement. The only live rounds that day were fired by a protester. I watched multiple live videos throughout the entire day as the situation unfolded and I firmly believe that law enforcement did all they could, but they had a job to do. They were patient, tried many methods of getting the crowd to move, but they did their job.
The protesters who are down there right now are not the group who started this as “water protectors”. These folks are coming from out of state. They are looking for a fight. Many have said they waiting for the shooting to start and they’re going to stop the pipeline or give their lives in the effort…not a figure of speech. The news outlets are painting this as a prayerful people who are being dragged out of sweat lodges and arrested for voicing their opinion…no, these are violent rioters threatening citizens and law enforcement.
Even most of the people of Sioux County just wish that the out-of-staters would just go home. This has become something they never wanted.
The town of Cannonball (a reservation town) voted by a nearly 80% majority to deny permits requests by the protesters to set up a winter camp closer to town. Most of the people of Standing Rock actually HAVE gone home out of fear…not of law enforcement, but of the “agitators”. Yeah, those who are there peacefully are trying their best now to separate the protectors from the agitators now. It’s become a huge mess. By the way, over the weekend, agitators set a huge grass fire on private property…because of the terrain and blocked roadway, fire crews could not reach it. They had to bring in helicopters to put it out. If you look up arrest records since this whole thing started, 90% of the arrests are not North Dakotans…they’re from almost every other state. At this point, everyone here just wants them to go home and let us deal with this.
The river crossing at this point has been halted temporarily as the Army Corp pulled the permits for the easement at the beginning of the protests pending independent investigations into environmental, cultural and spiritual concerns. Three separate investigations were done by North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa at the direction of the governors of those three states. All three investigations have been completed and all three governors, satisfied with the results, have asked that the Army Corp reinstate the permits for the easements.
You know, I get now how the news gets things so completely twisted. I’ll be doing much more of my own research and not just blindly believing what the skewed point of view that we get from our national media. Every national news outlet has the Morton County Sheriff’s Department being painted as the bad guys here, but that is just not the case. You know what they say…if you don’t want to be arrested, don’t break the law. This whole thing has gone to far, and national media is not telling an accurate story of what’s really happening. It breaks my heart, it’s breaking our communities, and I just want my state back.