Standing Rock, North Dakota (TFC)– Don’t let headlines pacify you into tuning out of the resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Why? Well, because authorities just conducted a military-style raid on peaceful protesters. This is a story quickly being censored, with few beyond those on the ground really certain what’s happening.
The targeted group were actually in a prayer circle when authorities ambushed them. Several sources, including Native American Here, report police in military-style gear and vehicles held prayer goers at gunpoint. At the ends of shotguns and rifles were they arrested, despite the efforts of protesters nearby. Those who attempted to film the “crackdown” stated their Facebook access was blocked.
Native American protesters–dubbed “water protectors”–attempted to tell police that none of them were armed. Of course, authorities didn’t seem to care, and lobbed tear gas as helicopters circled overhead.
Although censorship was reported, footage from protester Thomas H. Joseph II did find its way to Facebook. “We were gathered in prayer, un-armed”, he wrote in a post, “prayed, sang songs, and attempted to leave.” Joseph explained in the video that spray–tear gas or otherwise–was dispensed from a crop duster plane.
For what it’s worth, planes spouting an unidentified spray were also sighted over Milwaukee during its recent riots. Similarly to Standing Rock, Wisconsin activated the national guard to respond if needed. Although this is true, local media reported the guard hadn’t been actually on the streets that night. Residents disagree with this, having reported military craft over the city and national guard marked vehicles on the ground.
A sniper was also allegedly positioned on a nearby hill, pointed out as police vehicles circled. The first arrest, Joseph explained, was the woman who brought them down there that day. As protesters chanted “we have no weapons”, authorities loaded rounds into their own. As Joseph tried to leave alongside the remaining crowd, he called back for a lost friend, “Eddy!” “Eddy!” He was unsure if Eddy had been taken, or simply got separated amongst the confusion.
The world still hasn’t gotten used to the idea that Amy Goodman is facing criminal trespassing charges for covering the protests. Democracy Now! traveled to North Dakota, where they ultimately filmed attack dogs unleashed on activists. The dogs belonged to a private firm–Frost Kennels–but are otherwise quite anonymous. Charges against Goodman, which she calls a gross infringement of press freedoms, were filed shortly after Democracy Now’s footage went viral.
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein also has been charged for her participation in pipeline demonstrations. Stein, charged for vandalism and trespassing, spray painted “I approve of this message” on a bulldozer as protesters filmed in glee. Stein continues her career, though is making arrangements with officials to appear in court.
Cop Block contributors also traveled to Standing Rock, undeterred by national guard checkpoints. Protests and militarization of the area continues, despite headlines downplaying the ongoing struggle. Dakota Access is becoming a highly censored story, even on social media. Information must continue to spread regardless of any efforts organized to keep it contained. There’s a fight going on in Standing Rock, and the world can’t help but listen.