The Dakota Access Pipeline protest, which has been ongoing, fairly peacefully, for months now, turned violent this weekend following the destruction of cherished Native American cultural sites and burial areas. The burial grounds and cultural sites were reportedly on private land, land that is being excavated and otherwise developed to make way for the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.
As Fox News reports, the Dakota Access Pipeline protest devolved into violence after the destruction of the sacred, ancient Native American sites on Saturday. It was then that hundreds of the dedicated Dakota Access Pipeline protesters descended on the scene of the desecration and verbally engaged the construction workers handling the excavation.
At this point, it is unclear who got physically violent first. Local law enforcement claim that construction workers, security officers and security dogs working at the Dakota Access Pipeline site were injured in the melee. It has even been reported that one private security worker had to be hospitalized. However, the Morton County Sheriff’s Office publicly claimed that it had received no reports of injured Dakota Access Pipeline protesters.
Tribal officials have a different version of events. According to Steve Sitting Bear, who has been a spokesman for the protesters (largely made up of Native Americans from various tribes), dozens of people were hurt or injured in the massive altercation. Sitting Bear claims that 30 people protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline suffered from the effects of being pepper-sprayed and at least six of the mostly Native American protesters were bitten by security dogs, with one of those bitten reportedly being a “young child.”
What truly went down when the Native Americans involved in the Dakota Access Pipeline protest clashed with construction workers and private security at the location of the destroyed burial and cultural sites will likely remain a bit of a mystery. At least unless someone got some video of the massive skirmish. That’s because, despite the month’s-long, hundreds of demonstrators-strong, ongoing Dakota Access Pipeline protest being incredibly volatile, no law enforcement officers or other government officials were on site at the time that the violent event took place.
@MrBradJames State authorities in helicopter didn't do NEthing to stop attack!?Mercenaries can sic dogs on ppl?Phones dwn? Attempted murder!— PW (@MrsPsp) September 4, 2016
Local police report that when officers did get to the remote scene of the Dakota Access Pipeline protest, the large-scale and violent brawl immediately broke up and nobody was arrested.
According to eyewitness and police reports about the protest fight, the scene of the violence was roughly half a mile from the Dakota Access Pipeline protest’s main encampment. That’s where hundreds and hundreds of people have gathered and built a bit of a tent city, some protesters even bringing their entire families to join in the protest against the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline that many Native Americans say is destroying their ancestral lands and sacred sites, as well as compromising the quality of their drinking water.
The protest was started by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe months ago, but has grown substantially in recent weeks and now includes members of a multitude of Native American tribes as well as non-Native Americans. Heavy reports that some Hollywood celebrities have even gotten involved in the Dakota Access Pipeline protest.
On Friday, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reportedly filed court documents alleging that multiple sites of “significant cultural and historic value” had been discovered along the route of the proposed (but highly controversial) Dakota Access Pipeline. The next day, protesters claimed that sites were destroyed and that they were the subject of violent, vicious attacks.
The Dakota Access Pipeline project is being handled by a Texas company, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has also filed a motion to challenge the permits that were granted to the company to build the disputed pipeline near the reservation and across the Dakotas and Iowa to Illinois. A ruling as to whether or not construction can/should be halted on the Dakota Access Pipeline is expected by September 9, something protesters have been desperately awaiting.
[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]