160+ Water Protectors Injured, 1 Critically in #NoDAPL Police Confrontation

By Yessenia Funes Nov 21, 2016

Yesterday (November 20) and early this morning, militarized police action—including the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and water cannons—left more than 160 water protectors injured on the frontlines of the #NoDAPL resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Twelve people are hospitalized for severe head injuries, reads a statement the Indigenous Environmental Network emailed to Colorlines. Two suffered from cardiac arrests with one unidentified elder in critical condition, reports Unicorn Riot. Four were treated for hypothermia after water cannons hit them during temperatures as low as 26 degrees Fahrenheit, reports Native News Online. The Morton County Sherriff’s Department denied using water cannons in an interview with NBC News, but videos contradict that statement. Police claim to have used water to put out fires, but Unicorn Riot countered that water protectors were creating fires to warm up from being wet.

This confrontation occurred after more than 100 Native Americans and allies headed to a nearby bridge with a semi-truck to remove two burnt vehicles that were serving as a barricade put up by the Morton County Sherriff’s Department and state of North Dakota. This is when police began setting off tear gas. At least one water protector threw a canister back. The number of water protectors grew to approximately 500 at the height of the action, according to the Indigenous Environmental Network.

“Attempting to clear the road was met with police spraying people with water cannons in 26 degree weather—that’s deadly force, it’s freezing outside,” said Tara Houska, national campaigns director for Honor the Earth, in an online statement. “They want to kill people for clearing a road? When will our cries be heard?”

“This barricade, built after law enforcement raided the 1851 treaty camp, not only restricts North Dakota residents from using the 1806 freely but also puts the community of Cannon Ball, the camps, and the Standing Rock Tribe at risk as emergency services are unable to use that highway,” said the Indigenous Environmental Network’s statement.

The statement goes on:

The North Dakota law enforcement are cowards. Those who are hired to protect citizens attacked peaceful water protectors with water cannons in freezing temperatures and targeted their weapons at people’s’ faces and heads. 

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department, the North Dakota State Patrol, and the Governor of North Dakota are committing crimes against humanity. They are accomplices with the Dakota Access Pipeline LLC and its parent company Energy Transfer Partners in a conspiracy to protect the corporation’s illegal activities.

Amnesty International tweeted that it is “concerned about reports of force against protestors in #StandingRock.” It urged police to show restraint.

 (H/t Unicorn Riot, Native News Online)