The latest Standing Rock news from CBS states that starting this weekend, hundreds – and perhaps as many as 2,000 – military veterans will join Native American protesters from the Standing Rock Sioux Indian reservation at their camp in North Dakota as they oppose the planned placement of the Dakota Access pipeline near water sources vital to the local population.
These veterans will serve several purposes for the Standing Rock protesters. For one thing, they will help to show the broader support the protesters have across the country from the general public. Also, they will provide the current protesters with a bit of relief so they can rest and prepare for the approaching severe weather in North Dakota. Finally, they will be human shields.
Protest Timeline for Standing Rock
News media has – for the most part – only been paying close attention to the situation at Standing Rock over the last month or so, but the conflict has actually been ongoing for many months. With the distraction of the 2016 election over, more attention is now being given to the crisis in North Dakota.
The situation at Standing Rock essentially revolves around the plans to run the Dakota Access pipeline close to the Sioux Indian reservation at Standing Rock and under nearby Lake Oahe, an important water source for the entire area. While the company putting in the pipeline claims it’s perfectly safe, the record of such pipelines suggests leaks might be a regular thing.
As noted by teleSUR, the pipeline had been laid out to run closer to Bismarck, North Dakota, but objections by citizens convinced the company to run the pipeline by the Indian reservation instead. Presumably, the oil company felt there would be fewer objections to this from most North Dakotans – except of course from the Sioux Indians.
The Confrontation at Standing Rock
News conferences held by officials engaged in the confrontation with the protesters at Standing Rock attempt to give the impression these protesters are dangerous, violent, and unreasonable. But photos and videos from the protest – as well as other evidence – have convinced most people that the aggressors are the authorities themselves.
While unarmed protesters have stood their ground in freezing conditions, law enforcement – outfitted and equipped like a military force – have used water cannons, rubber bullets, and stun grenades to attack the protesters in an attempt to break their will and drive them off. A number of people have suffered minor to serious injuries, with some of these injuries being life-threatening and even permanently debilitating.
The Arrival of Military Veterans
The military veterans arriving at Standing Rock from across the country will begin their vigil on December 4 and continue it through December 7. They have committed themselves to nonviolent protest, and organizers of the event have urged them to leave weapons at home.
Instead, many of the veterans are bringing body armor for protection from physical attack and masks to safeguard them from tear gas. If authorities do commit violence against the military veteran protesters, it’s hoped by those at Standing Rock that news organizations will document this for the entire world to see. If they don’t, there’s always the internet and the camera drones the protesters are using.
As reported by ABC News, the veterans will also be bringing badly needed supplies – including medical supplies – to assist the protesters already at the site. They will also try to help the current protesters better prepare for the deepening Dakota winter.
The Standing Rock news about the impending arrival of military veterans has coincided with a statement issued by state authorities indicating that they will not forcibly remove the protesters using violence. But it’s uncertain whether this promise will stand once the military protesters have left and the Sioux are on their own again.
[Featured Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]