The Standing Rock protests, which have now continued for months as the Standing Rock Sioux tribe fights against the Dakota Access oil pipeline and its potential to pollute their water supply, have reached a new level of violence, as private security guards working for the primary construction company associated with the project attacked the Native American protesters with dogs and pepper spray Saturday.
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! has been onsite covering the protests, and the network posted photos and video from the attack over this weekend. The protesters have been waiting for a ruling from a federal judge regarding whether the construction may be subject an injunction, but found a tribal burial site bulldozed over the weekend and have now asked for a temporary restraining order as well.
Goodman spoke to Jan Hasselman, a staff attorney with Earthjustice representing the tribe in the suit, and Dave Archambault, the chair of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
Archambault condemned the actions of the private security firm hired by the construction company for the Pipeline, saying officials’ reports about an “angry mob” and “riot scene” were false:
But it—that was not what was taking place. We had protectors who were concerned about the land. And it just goes to show what kind of a company Energy [Transfer] Partners is. They have—they have zero policies on community relations, zero policy on human rights, zero policies on Indian rights, indigenous rights. So, when a company is like that, they have no social responsibility, and they don’t care about anything. And they hire security companies with untrained handlers. And these handlers—the dogs were attacking the handlers. That’s why they released dogs into the crowd. And then they go and try to recover them. It just doesn’t make sense, and it’s not right, what this company, Energy [Transfer] Partners, is doing. They say they have every right to be there, but so do we.
A spokesperson from Dakota Access issued a statement indicating that security personal and several of their dogs were attacked. According to Archambault, the attack by the security company was completely unprovoked. Archambault also said that law enforcement began releasing statements to the public from the company without also releasing witness statements and protester statements about the incident.
According to tribe spokesman Steve Sitting Bear, at least six people were bitten by dogs including one child.
In late August, Greg Wilz, director of North Dakota Homeland Security, ordered the water supply for the protesters to be removed, citing alleged disorderly conduct.
Photo: NEW YORK, August 7 – Sioux youth from the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota rallied with supporters in Union Square after running 2,000 miles across the United States to protest the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline. Flickr/Joe Catron