Pipe­line pro­test­ers are in­creas­ingly di­vided over tac­tics

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Regina Gar­cia Cano and James MacPher­son

BIS­MARCK, N.D. >> Pro­test­ers at the de­mon­stra­tion against the Dakota Ac­cess pipe­line are in­creas­ingly di­vided over how to stop the project, with mil­i­tant younger ac­tivists seek­ing more ag­gres­sive tac­tics and an older crowd ar­gu­ing for peace­ful protest cen­tered on prayer.

The dif­fer­ences came to a head last week af­ter law en­force­ment of­fi­cers in riot gear forced hun­dreds of pro­test­ers off an en­camp­ment on pri­vate prop­erty. In re­sponse, some demon­stra­tors torched three ve­hi­cles on a bridge, cre­at­ing a block­ade that ef­fec­tively cut off easy ac­cess to the pipe­line con­struc­tion zone and made it far harder for the Stand­ing Rock Sioux tribe and nearby res­i­dents to get to Bis­marck for er­rands and med­i­cal ap­point­ments.

Many other pro­test­ers in­sist that their cause can­not re­sort to law break­ing, and they sup­port the threat of evic­tion that the main camp has is­sued against peo­ple who would cause prob­lems.

“We don’t want peo­ple in­sti­gat­ing things that are go­ing to get out of hand. We don’t need them,” said Don Cuny, chief of se­cu­rity for the large camp near the con­flu­ence of the Mis­souri and Can­non­ball rivers.

With the po­ten­tial for more vi­o­lence, tribal elders have asked that chil­dren be re­moved from the camp.

“They want the kids out of here if things get ugly,” said Em­mett White Tem­ple, a 55-year-old mem­ber of the Stand­ing Rock Sioux.

A Den­ver woman was charged Mon­day with at­tempted murder by au­thor­i­ties who said she fired three shots at law of­fi­cers dur­ing Thurs­day’s op­er­a­tion.

The sprawl­ing en­camp­ment known as Oceti Sakowin, or Seven Coun­cil Fires camp, is on Army Corps of En­gi­neers land. Within it are smaller camps oc­cu­pied by pro­test­ers from across the U.S. and be­yond. Res­i­dents are hes­i­tant about sin­gling out the group or groups that set the ve­hi­cles on fire, but they over­whelm­ingly point to a young crowd of campers.

For months now, op­po­nents of the four-state, $3.8 bil­lion pipe­line have been camp­ing in this area about 50 miles south of Bis­marck. They worry the pipe­line will dis­turb cul­tural ar­ti­facts and threaten drink­ing wa­ter sources on the Stand­ing Rock Sioux’s nearby reser­va­tion and down­stream.

The pipe­line’s op­er­a­tor, Texas-based En­ergy Trans­fer Part­ners, in­sists the project is safe. The tribe is fight­ing the pipe­line’s per­mit­ting process in fed­eral court.

Tribal elders con­demned the de­struc­tion of the ve­hi­cles, White Tem­ple said.

“Peo­ple were get­ting chewed out for the ag­gres­sion,” he said of a meet­ing Sun­day at the main protest camp.

“We have to keep on with prayer, but those peo­ple are still dig­ging that pipe­line,” he said. Oth­ers be­lieve “vi­o­lence gets ac­tion.”

Over the week­end, con­struc­tion crews worked right next to the camp that au­thor­i­ties cleared Thurs­day, when they ar­rested more than 140 peo­ple.

Win­ter cloth­ing, propane tanks, wood, tires, bot­tled wa­ter and other items be­long­ing to the pro­test­ers lay next to heavy equip­ment. The ve­hi­cles set on fire were still smol­der­ing Sun­day as at least 10 dozen law en­force­ment ve­hi­cles and of­fi­cers from dif­fer­ent ju­ris­dic­tions stood just be­yond a ce­ment bar­ri­cade.

Cody Hall, a for­mer spokesman for one of the en­camp­ment’s fac­tions, said the en­tire camp must re­main united to suc­cess­fully fight the pipe­line. He said the vi­o­lence seen Thurs­day was “ex­pected.”

“I’m not go­ing to say any­thing bad about the fire be­ing put up,” Hall said. “It hap­pens and we are deal­ing with it.”


Two mem­bers of the Stutsman County SWAT team talk Sun­day while de­ployed to watch pro­test­ers demon­strat­ing against the Dakota Ac­cess Pipe­line en­croach­ing the wa­ter source near the Stand Rock Sioux Reser­va­tion, as they stand next to a po­lice bar­ri­cade on High­way 1806 in Can­non Ball, N.D.

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