#NoDAPL Water Ceremony Leads to Police Attack on Native Lives

By Yessenia Funes Nov 03, 2016

In what’s become all too common in #NoDAPL demonstrations, water protectors and officers with the Morton County Sherriff’s Department faced off again yesterday (November 2) regarding the contested Dakota Access Pipeline. Militarized police pepper sprayed, shot non-lethal ammunition and deployed tear gas on pipeline opponents in North Dakota, according to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department.

Tensions rose along Cantapeta Creek, which flows north of the Cannonball River and is on land currently owned by Army Corps of Engineers. Water protectors wanted to conduct a water ceremony atop a nearby hill which is sacred to the Sioux, because they say it contains ancient burial grounds. To get there, according to reports from alternative news site Unicorn Riot, pipeline opponents constructed a wooden footbridge to cross the Cannonball River.

Law enforcement officers destroyed the “illegal” bridge under Army Corps orders, citing the violation of “numerous federal and state laws including the Clean Water Act and the Safe River and Harbors Act,” a press release reads. Unicorn Riot identified some officers as SWAT members and North Dakota Highway Patrol.

Water protectors continued to cross the river by swimming or using boats, canoes and kayaks, despite police orders to stop. Law enforcement responded with force. Many pipeline opponents remained in the water along the shore once they crossed, as most of the officers were posted on land. One person was arrested under conspiracy charges for “aiding in illegal activity by purchasing canoes and kayaks to be used for crossing the waterway,” reads a police statement.

Celebrities onsite yesterday included "Gasland" director Josh Fox and "How to Get Away With Murder" actors Kendrick Sampson and Matt McGrory.

These events happened hours after President Barack Obama’s last interview on the pipeline, where he announced that the Army Corps was examining whether or not to reroute the pipeline, though they were planning to first give the situation several more weeks to “play out.” The comment prompted Morton County Commissioner Cody Schulz to say, “Given the recent escalation of violence by protestors, letting this situation ‘play out’ is quote literally putting lives in danger.”

Water protectors say their actions remain nonviolent and that law enforcement is causing disturbances. Escalations have been growing since April 1, when the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe established camps opposing the $3.78 billion pipeline which is set to cut through four states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. Construction is nearing the Missouri River in North Dakota, the tribe’s source of drinking water, which they say will likely face contamination if the pipeline crosses beneath it.

(H/t Unicorn Riot)