Update/Recap on Standing Rock, 12/20/16-12/27/16
(Information sourced from people on the ground.)
Reports on camp population are estimated at 2,000. The strong call for self-sufficient, prepared Water Protectors to join camp continues to be made, especially as DAPL keeps working day and night, and the numbers of militarized police increase and continue to illegally assault and arrest the peaceful, unarmed people who stand up for Clean Water.
Yesterday (12/27/16), there was massive police presence guarding the DAPL worksite and surrounding the bridge and fenced off areas. A group of about 10 Water Protectors went up to Turtle Island to pray, then crossed the frozen lake, and were walking away (reportedly by police command) when police swarmed in on snowmobiles. While Water Protectors asked for badge numbers and clearly stated the police actions in detaining them were illegal, five Protectors were arrested on charges of criminal trespass. A representative at the jail stated they were unable to process and release them until a hearing sometime today (12/28/16). One had a pending warrant so no bond was stated, and the remaining four would have bail set at $250. Call the jail at 701-667-3318 to insist these peaceful Protectors be released.
The arrests and police involvement reportedly prompted more Protectors to arrive at Turtle Island in support, and even more police came on the scene to greatly outnumber them, arriving in approximately 20-30 Humvees and other large vehicles, as well as numerous snowmobiles. Protectors and armed police had a stand off, though no more were arrested. Around this time some Water Protectors climbed up to the top of Turtle Island and shouted "Mni Wiconi" until they were threatened down by police. Water cannons and sound cannons were seen hauled out, and then turned around unused. Medics were on site and prepared warming fires in cases water cannons were deployed.
Afterwards, a large gathering of Water Protectors stood at the bridge together to peacefully pray and sing, and high spirited cheers of "Mni Wiconi" were exclaimed at times. They were told by police they'd be shot if they touched the wire, and the Protectors responded with attempts to engage in peaceful dialogue with the militarized police, who refused. Some Protectors walked into the field next to road, made contact with signage, and were fired upon by police. About five "less than lethal" shots were fired, but no one was hurt. Two Protectors were reportedly hit but are both okay.
The 1806 bridge was inspected by ND Dept of Transportation on 12/22/16. The inspection report could take up to 30 days, and if repairs are deemed necessary the reopening of the bridge could be months away. Abandoned vehicles have been removed. Wire, blockades, and heavy police presence and surveillance remain at all times.
Large efforts for winterization and severe weather prep continue. A big blizzard came through on 12/25/16, resulting in several feet of snow blown by strong winds. "Thundersnow" occurred during the blizzard, which is a blizzard including storm elements of thunder and lightning. Some reported thunder booms that sounded like explosions. Campers were urged to stay in safe locations, and those needing rescue were assisted. Days before the storm were spent preparing and supplying everyone in camp. Days after the blizzard were spent digging building entrances and cars out of snow. Community meetings have continued in the camps, bringing Protectors together to discuss topics from self sufficient infrastructure planning to court solidarity workshops.
During the previous week (12/19 - 12/23/16), some of the first Water Protectors arrested began court proceedings. Court continues this week, and Protectors shuttle from camp to court daily in support of those on trial. Many disappointing rulings have been reported: denial of treaty or sovereignty discussion, Mandan jury selection, denial of Indigenous representation in jury, denial for change of venue to move trial out of Morton County. Police have reportedly lied in sworn testimony against Water Protectors, while video footage supporting Protectors has been denied into evidence. On 12/20/16, two Protectors were convicted of misdemeanors by a jury, receiving suspended sentences of 10 days in jail and ordered to pay $1285 in fines. Severe and varied punishments face many Water Protectors, for some up to seven years in prison and $20,000 in fines, others one year and $6,000, others different but still heavy, life-changing numbers.
Action to support Protectors who face criminal charges needed now, with the deadline this Friday, 12/30/16 at 4pm: Submit your letters to the ND Supreme Court in support of allowing qualified attorneys from outside of ND to represent Water Protectors in court. Email your supportive comments to Penny Miller, Clerk of the Supreme Court, at email@example.com. Cc your emails to the Water Protectors legal collective, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The #DefundDAPL and #Divest movements remain strong and solid. Solidarity actions continue throughout the country and world. Camps for Water Protectors fighting the Trans-Pecos Pipeline in Alpine, TX and the Sabal Trail Pipeline in Florida continue to grow larger and gain momentum and attention. More protests against other pipelines continue to gain strong support with every day, like the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana, Pilgrim Pipeline in New Jersey, and Kinder Morgan in Canada. Collective awareness and action are growing and spreading.
Water Protectors on the ground ask for you to continue praying for and thinking of them, raising awareness for NoDAPL and all other pipelines, taking peaceful action locally, divesting...and then more praying, that the Black Snake--and all Black Snakes--be stopped.