The cold of the frigid North Dakota weather has not stopped the thousands of protesters who are camping out as they try to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. And they are soon to get a boost from hundreds of veterans.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple has given ordered that these protesters must leave immediately and cites the harsh wintry conditions for the reason why. But those at the freezing campsite criticize Gov. Dalrymple saying that he is trying to protect safety.
STOP THE PIPELINE
“If you want to make this safer, then stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Stop the whole thing completely,” said Wicahpi Ksapa, a tribal headsman for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “You want to poison our people?”
The tribe of Native Americans started their anti-pipeline campaign months ago to protect their sacred sites as well as their water supply. But the protests have ballooned to include:
Yesterday, leaders of “Veterans Stand for Standing Rock” said that they are ready to go to North Dakota – even with the temperature standing at 29 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday afternoon.
LEADER OF VETERANS GROUP
“See you all on the ground in Standing Rock,” veteran Wesley Clark Jr. tweeted Wednesday. “We are coming with Truth, Justice & the American Way as it was always meant to be. Peace.”
Clark — not to be confused with retired Gen. Wesley Clark — created “Veterans Stand for Standing Rock” along with Michael Wood Jr., a retired Baltimore police officer and Marine Corps veteran. “If we don’t stand up for the oppressed, that’s the snowball that starts that leads to everyone else’s oppression,” Wood said. “It doesn’t matter if you are a libertarian, a conservative, or a progressive, this is everyone’s fight.”
The group’s Facebook page told attendees to “Bring body armour, gas masks, earplugs AND shooting mufflers (we may be facing a sound cannon) but no drugs, alcohol or weapons.”
And it calls for the group to unite on Sunday — one day before protesters must leave or face arrest.
But the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now Coalition, which has supported the pipeline project, said there are veterans on both sides of the debate.
“(T)he notion that some would descend upon Cannon Ball as self-purported ‘human shields’ is both unnerving and unnecessary,” spokesman Craig Stevens said in a statement. “Protesters have had, and taken the ongoing opportunity to protest for several months. Only when protesters have broken the law have they been arrested or asked to disperse.”
US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
The US Army Corps of Engineers warned last week that come Monday, activists who refuse to leave could be arrested. But since the statement’s release Friday, officials have backtracked, saying they have no plans to forcibly remove those who stay.
More recently, Gov. Dalrymple ordered protesters to clear out immediately, citing a reason other than trespassing: harsh winter conditions. He said the protesters’ temporary dwellings have yet to be inspected and approved, and failure to do so posed serious public safety concerns. The governor also said first responders would no longer be responsible for providing emergency services to those who remained.