A group of protesters at Standing Rock were hit with rubber bullets, tear gas, and water cannons. They fought to prevent the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
For the past months, members of the Standing Rock Sioux and many others including Jill Stein have been protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Upon completion, the $3.8 billion pipeline will be 1,200 miles long and will zig zag across four states including North Dakota and Illinois. The Native Americans, who are also known as “water defenders,” say that the pipeline will leak dangerous and poisonous gas in the Missouri River reservoir that serves the wells in the area.
They also believe that the pipeline will destroy sacred grounds. The pipeline’s developer, Energy Transfer Partners, has denied those claims. In the past, the “water defenders” have been arrested, and police dogs even bit some.
In the early hours of Monday, another clash took place between the Standing Rock “water defenders,” and authorities at the Dakota Access Pipeline construction site. Footage showed the police had violent exchanges with the natives and their backers, who were battling the freezing temperatures.
After the clash, about 17 protesters were rushed to nearby hospitals for injuries and to be treated for hypothermia. Moreover, one police officer suffered injuries to the head after being hit with a rock. Many of the protesters spoke to local media to share their experiences.
A young native man from the Ojibwe nation said he was bombarded by armed police. He explained:
“He shot me with a rubber bullet right in the belly button, and when I showed him that he had hurt me, he just smiled and shot both my kneecaps.”
Cheyenne, a young native woman from Michigan, whose face was red and swollen after being tear-gassed, stated:
“I was tear gassed over 15 times, which made it hard to breathe and left my face burning for hours. I got hosed down with a water cannon in freezing temperatures leaving me hypothermic, and I was slammed into a barbed wire barricade out of panic caused by the police after a flash grenade was thrown and caught fire to a field.”
Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, added:
“Hypothermia, a number of head injuries from being shot with rubber bullets, one individual had a heart attack.”
Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said that the protesters might have been confused because no water cannon was used, only fire hoses were part of their arsenal. Sheriff’s spokesman Rob Keller said:
“We’re just not going to let people or protesters in large groups come in and threaten officers. That’s not happening.”
Despite being doused by water cannon and fire hoses, the protesters stated that they plan to return to the site again and again.