As if there weren’t enough of the heavy topics that weigh on your everyday life, we’ve got another. Never let it be said that ignorance was better than being well-informed. In a recent statement, The Department of the Army and Interior put a halt to the progress of the Dakota Access Pipeline. It was the hope of many that this would, finally, after months of endless efforts, create an opportunity for an alternate, more environmentally friendly project. More importantly, that it would put an end to the violence that has been escalating at Sacred Stone Camp.
Unfortunately, that was not the case.
After moths of dedication, physical and emotional pain- the courage of Sacred Stone Camps’ water protectors prevailed. When the Department of the Army and Interior released their decision to delay the Dakota Access Pipeline’s construction, it posed as small progress. Small, but something.
On November 14, 2016:
“The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws. Therefore, construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time. The Army will move expeditiously to make this determination, as everyone involved — including the pipeline company and its workers — deserves a clear and timely resolution. In the interim, we request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe…”
The statement goes on to admit the dire need for further discussion on the Dakota Access pipeline. The Army Corps recognizes the need for reform and respect. Especially for the beliefs and culture of those involved. The Army Corps moves to further acknowledge tribal input in discussions of treaty rights, protection of natural resources and tribal lands. (Read full statement here.)
Only time would tell if the statement would be acknowledged by police forces at Sacred Stone Camp. Furthermore, if the efforts of the Department of the Army were sincere. It didn’t take long to realize that the progress was limited to construction’s delay. The violence didn’t stop.
In reality, for the water protectors of Sacred Stone Camp, the violence is escalating. Claiming to use ‘non-lethal’ weapons has been the police forces’ stance from the beginning. Though, that doesn’t equate to non-dangerous or non-violent. Rubber bullets, tear gas, water hoses (in 30 degree weather) and pepper spray are just a few of the weapons water protectors are facing.
Various sources claimed that the water hoses were an effort to put out fires started by the protestors. The following video proves otherwise.
The video shows peaceful, unarmed protestors on a bridge near Sacred Stone Camp as they are drenched in freezing cold weather. There were no fires that can be seen a justification for the use of such methods. Shouts for medics and help can be heard in both this version and the longer Facebook Live feed. The images and audio are somewhat disturbing.
The U.S. Army Corps’ statement came with a sense of hope and relief. They encouraged the opinions of the community’s tribe members and the water protectors. It was the first real act of respect since construction of the 1,170-mile pipeline began. Unfortunately, the statement meant little to those affected by police forces at Sacred Stone Camp. The statement did not to protect them from the increased police presence. Nor did the statement protect them from the increased violence of said law enforcement.
According to PBS News, the Energy Transfer Company spoke out against the Army Corp’s decision. They claimed the decision was unjust. A “sham process,” they complained. One which sent a “frightening message about the rule of law.” Though, nobody seems to understand the horror of injustice quite like the water protectors. The Energy company claims to be concerned about the people who are affected by the pipeline’s construction. Yet they give no regard to the well-being of those fighting to protect natural resources.
One thing is clear. Something has to be done to stop the violence.