Standing Rock Protesters To Be Protected By ‘Human Shield’ Of Veterans, Ace Hardware Refusing To Sell Supplies [Video]

Standing Rock protesters have suffered through a some rough times as they gather in North Dakota to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Initially, the protest engineered to protect the water supply and sacred sites of Native Americans in its path was peaceful, and it remained peaceful for months. However, the violence at Standing Rock has exponentially increased as the $3.8 billion pipeline nears completion, with more and more protesters suffering devastating injuries at the hands of militarized police.

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Thousands of people are currently hunkered down at Standing Rock, led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, even though the last week has seen the protesters receive two separate calls to vacate the area. The first came last Friday from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who issued a letter to tribal elders telling them to be off the disputed land by December 5. The protesters refused, and the government quickly backed down from threats to forcibly remove protesters to a designated “free speech zone.”

“[Those who stay] do so at their own risk as emergency, fire, medical, and law enforcement response cannot be adequately provided in these areas. Those who remain will be considered unauthorized and may be subject to citation under federal, state or local laws.”

However, Standing Rock protesters have been warned that if they stick around, they will be in violation of state, local and federal laws and subject to legal repercussions. The have also been told that they are endangering themselves “at their own risk” in the aftermath of violent clashes and heading into the brutal North Dakota winter.

On Monday, Standing Rock protesters got a second notice to get out. This one came from Governor of North Dakota, Jack Dalrymple. He told the Standing Rock Sioux leaders and their thousands of fellow protesters to get out of the area ASAP. Again, protesters have chosen to stand their ground, despite the dire threat of being cut off from emergency services (fire and EMT) for the duration of their protest.

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When these threats failed to get rid of the protesters, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department issued a warning with the potential to bring the Standing Rock protesters to their knees. It was announced that due to the governor’s “emergency evacuation order,” supplies would no longer be allowed into the protest camp. That was to include “food, building supplies and other materials,” which would have been blocked by police from making its way into the camp.

North Dakota quickly backed down from that threat, but have vowed to implement $1,000 fines for anyone caught bringing supplies to the Standing Rock protesters.

Now, after weeks of bad news and threats, the Standing Rock protesters are finally on the brink of something positive. As The Huffington Post reports, roughly 2,000 U.S. military vets are headed to North Dakota to lend a hand to the protest efforts. In a grassroots, social media-fueled event called “Veterans Stand for Standing Rock,” which is slated to run from December 4 to 7, vets are coming to lend their support to the ongoing protest, right through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers December 5 evacuation deadline.

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The vets promise that they will be non-violent in their protests, but have advised participants to bring an array of supplies (bring body armor, gas masks, earplugs and shooting mufflers) to protect themselves from police violence after so many other protesters have been injured in the fray in recent days and weeks. What’s more, the vets promised to form a “human shield” around the beleaguered protesters to give them a break from months of non-stop activism and weeks of violence.

On top of that, the veterans are coming to Standing Rock loaded up with supplies to help the protesters hunker down for the winter ahead. A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help pay for what’s needed. Over $726,000 has been raised so far, and the incoming horde of veterans is planning on bringing the much needed supplies when they descend on Standing Rock next week.

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No word on whether Morton County deputies plan on targeting the influx of U.S. veterans with $1,000 fines for their efforts.

The supplies being brought in by the vets couldn’t come at a better time, either. That’s because, as Jezebel reports, Standing Rock protesters are finding it much more difficult to get their supplies locally lately. Reportedly, local Ace Hardware stores are now refusing to sell supplies to Dakota Access Pipeline protesters, and have taken to Twitter to announce their new business model.

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According to Ace Hardware, they are making the change at the request of law enforcement, and it’s a move that could devastate Standing Rock protesters’ efforts to ready themselves for the bitter winter to come. That is, if not for the support of the incoming veterans.

Not surprisingly, Ace Hardware’s reported decision to participate in cutting off the Standing Rock protesters’ local supply line has met with public backlash. Some on social media are even calling for a boycott and the hashtag #BoycottAceHardware is circulating Twitter, along with contact information for the hardware chain.

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Many supporters of the Standing Rock protests are fearful that Ace Hardware’s decision could make a bad situation much worse for the group of largely Native American protesters camping out long-term at the disputed site.

[Featured Image by Morton County Sheriff’s Department/AP Images]