Standing Rock, North Dakota (TFC) – Tensions flare once more as North Dakota officials graduate their militarized tactics against protesters. Sheriffs have now threatened a blockade of people, food, and medicine to the camps.
The threats comes on the heels of the US Army Corps of Engineers warning protesters to leave by December 5th. Anyone remaining will be under fear of prosecution for trespassing. Fines have also been thrown into the basket of incentives for the water protectors to surrender.
Establishing a blockade represents yet another ultra-militarized tactic used against peaceful American citizens. Denying nourishment and medical treatment is a classic strategy to degrade will and resolve. Combined with harsh weather conditions, water protectors are faced with a tormentingly deadly roulette.
It took hours, however, for officials to begin scaling back those threats. “There is not going to be any blockade of supplies”, says a spokesperson for Governor Jack Dalrymple. Morton County Sheriff’s Department initially threatened a complete blockade.
Whether this represents a breaking of the ranks in the state’s government, or these are merely idle threats, it remains unclear. Governor Dalrymple, in fact, has begun framing the clearing out of camps as an emergency measure.
It doesn’t help that police and private contractors have only escalated violence against protesters, water protectors, and journalists. Among the freshest viral atrocities are the use of a water cannon in freezing temperatures.
Medics attested to water instantly freezing on the skin of those struck by the cannon. Several nearly suffered from hypothermia, requiring treatment beyond what was immediately available. In another incident, a woman’s arm was destroyed by a police grenade weapon. Although pictures circulated online, officials were reluctant to acknowledge responsibility.
Other water protectors have been shot by rubber bullets, and clubbed with batons. Months ago, dog attacks by DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline) contractors went viral via Democracy Now. Days later, an arrest warrant for Democracy Now’s host, Amy Goodman, was issued by Morton County. Numerous other journalists have been arrested, facing similar charges.
Social media access has been reported as “blocked’ during at least one raid. Recently, it was revealed by The Intercept that DAPL-related surveillance is largely outsourced to a Blackwater-linked contractor. Intercept investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill advised protesters to essentially assume that their devices are compromised.
Blockading supplies invokes Gaza, Raqqa, or any place which just happens to be in a combat zone. The denial of nourishment and medicine, alongside systematic assaults, is classic warfare. The issue here is that these are American cops, not a force occupying another country. It’s this which remains unreconciled in much of the mainstream conversation about the DAPL protests.
Police at Standing Rock have long used weapons of war against water protectors. They’ve now, however, graduated to using tactics of war against the activist collective. DAPL contractors, some armed with rifles and others with baseball bats, are scattered among their ranks. Words lack potency, and hush in the mind when faced with such a reality.