by: ALBERT BENDER
Having just returned from a week of covering the valiant, epochal pipeline protests by the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies, I was outraged at the assault on the protesters last Saturday, September 3. The protesters were attacked by the hired racist thugs of Energy Transfer Partners, the company that owns the North Dakota pipeline project called Dakota Access Pipeline(DAPL). Eyewitness accounts and video footage bear out that peaceful protesters were viciously assaulted by private security guards and their trained attack dogs. The incident immediately followed the bulldozing and destruction of sacred burial sites belonging to the Standing Rock Sioux by Energy Transfer Partners.
These sites were in an area just northwest of the confluence of the Cannon Ball and Missouri Rivers in southern North Dakota.
On September 3, after receiving the shocking information that DAPL workers were engaged in destroying sacred sites that were not even on the pipeline route, demonstrators rushed to the burial site area and witnessed the ongoing pillage by the company’s earth movers.
“To stop the destruction the women took positions in front of the advancing bulldozers and locked themselves arm in arm,” said Kandi Mossett of the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara tribes, from the Fort Berthold Reservation in western North Dakota. Mossett is also an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network. Mossett continued: “Several people were bitten by dogs, including a pregnant woman, and the police were on the highway and did nothing during the entire incident. During the incident the women threw handfuls of dirt at the dogs to try avoid being bitten.”
“[Energy Transfer Partners] went out of its way to destroy the sacred sites and cut a two-mile swath through the area,” remarked Mossett.
Mossett reported the assembled protestors were also assaulted directly by a private security guard. “Demonstrators had to restrain a security guard who charged into the crowd swinging at everyone. Again the police did nothing. Also, the women who were locked arm and arm were all pepper sprayed, about thirty of them,” recounted Mossett.
Later, she said, when the police took statements, “they did not take any from the protesters, only from the DAPL security people.” This reporter called the Morton County Sheriff’s office to speak to spokesperson Donnell Presky, for a response. No calls were returned.
A number of things are clear from this incident. First, the corporate owners of DAPL are conducting an egregiously racist campaign against Native people. This incident was meant to provoke the water protectors to violence that the racist mainstream news media could feed into its rumor mill of violence on the part of Indian protesters. This despicable attempt has palpably backfired.
Second, the racist Sheriffs’ Department is acting as the servile accessory to the brutal actions of DAPL against Indian people. It is complicit; it is acting as an arm of the corporate magnates, and is on the side of DAPL as shown in this incident. This use of the police is similar to that which occurred in the Civil Rights era in the Deep South, when police often acted on behalf of the most extreme racist elements.
Third, it can be seen that the real purveyor of violence is Energy Transfer Partners. This entire episode, along with the malicious outrage of the destruction of sacred burial sites, was meant to provoke violence. The destruction of the sacred burial sites was done with pure racist malice.
But this incident will only bring more support to this magnificent, history-making Native led united front movement for justice against these barbarous, capitalist monsters, for whom nothing is sacred.
Photo: Opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline, or “water protectors,” were attacked with dogs, pepper spray near the site of the pipeline route. CommonDreams.