Water protectors’ statements regarding commitment to nonviolence and prayer to oppose the Dakota Access pipeline:
According to the Associated Press, Don Cuny, the security leader for activists at the encampment, said Saturday that standoff “does not represent” the ongoing protest. Cuny noted that disagreements have surfaced about how to demonstrate, but he said any people involved in the protest who instigate trouble would be kicked out of the encampment.
Danny Grassrope, 24, told ABC News Saturday that he was arrested at the protest site and witnessed police officers spraying protesters while they were praying.
“This weekend we went to go demonstrate with peaceful action. We went to go pray,” Grassrope said. “Then while we were praying, the cops came and told us we couldn’t be there. We were just standing there and then this police officer came and opened up with some pepper spray. We weren’t antagonizing them or anything, we were just praying.”
“I don’t understand why it was a riot, the police were in riot gear we were just praying,” Grassrope added.
“Our camp needs to continue to be peaceful and prayerful,” Caroline High Elk, who has stayed at the encampment for brief periods eight times over the past few months, said Saturday.
From Democracy Now! story September 6, 2016:
AMY GOODMAN: Why is this such an important fight to you?
PROTESTER 17: Because water is life. Like I said, without water, we’d all—we wouldn’t be here. These plants wouldn’t be here. There’d be no oxygen. We’d all die without it. I wish they’d open their eyes and have a heart, to realize, you know, if this happens, we’re not going to be the only ones that are going to suffer. They’re going to suffer, too.
AMY GOODMAN: What tribe are you with?
PROTESTER 17: I’m Oglala Sioux, full blood.
AMY GOODMAN: From?
PROTESTER 17: Pine Ridge Reservation.
“Militarized law enforcement agencies moved in on water protectors with tanks and riot gear today,” tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II said. “We have repeatedly seen a disproportionate response from law enforcement to water protectors’ nonviolent exercise of their constitutional rights. Today we have witnessed people praying in peace, yet attacked with pepper spray, rubber bullets, sound and concussion cannons.”
Eryn Wise of the Indigenous Youth Council said, “I have no words for what happened to any of us today. They are trying to again rewrite our narrative and we simply will not allow it. Our youth are watching and remember the faces of the officers that assaulted them. They pray for them.”
“Yesterday, we saw folks being maced. I was standing right next to a group of teenagers that were all maced in the face, maced right—like all kinds of people. Myself, I actually was almost shot in the face by bean bag round. It ricocheted off a truck right next to my head. These police were actively trying to hurt people, pushing them back to allow construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. They were defending monetary interests as human beings were being physically hurt. You know, I saw—I saw, right in front of me, a group of police officers pull a protester forward and begin beating him over the head with sticks. There’s video of it that you can see. I mean, this was an all-out war that was waged on indigenous protectors that were doing nothing more than peacefully assembling.” Tara Houska, national campaigns director for Honor the Earth, on Democracy Now!
GENEVA (22 September 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, today called on the United States to halt the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline as it poses a significant risk to the drinking water of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and threatens to destroy their burial grounds and sacred sites.
“The United States should, in accordance with its commitment to implement the Declaration on the Rights on Indigenous Peoples, consult with the affected communities in good faith and ensure their free, and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands, particularly in connection with extractive resource industries.
“I urge the United States Government to undertake a thorough review of its compliance with international standards regarding the obligation to consult with indigenous peoples and obtain their free and informed consent. The statutory framework should be amended to include provisions to that effect and it is important that the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Advisory Council on Historic Preservation participate in the review of legislation.”