Vets dump on Dakota pipe­line protest

Blame or­ga­niz­ers for snowy chaos

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY VALERIE RICHARD­SON

For vet­er­ans pre­pared to put their lives on the line to help the Stand­ing Rock Sioux stop the Dakota Ac­cess pipe­line, this week’s protest didn’t quite live up to the hype.

First, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion re­moved the ur­gency by pulling the pipe­line ease­ment Sun­day as thou­sands ar­rived at the protest camps. Then a bliz­zard sent vet­er­ans flock­ing to the casino, where they slept as many as 10 to a room, as well as in­side the au­di­to­rium.

On Mon­day, tribal chair­man Dave Ar­cham­bault II asked them to leave. By Wed­nes­day, charges of fi­nan­cial mis­man­age­ment and lack of or­ga­ni­za­tion were fly­ing thick and fast on so­cial me­dia.

“A lot of vet­er­ans that we talked to seemed dis­grun­tled about how this op­er­a­tion un­folded,” said Adam Line­han of Task & Pur­pose, a vet­er­ans’ news ser­vice, in a video from the camp­site near Can­non Ball, North Dakota. “A lot of them feel aban­doned by the Vet­er­ans for Stand­ing Rock chain of com­mand.”

The big­gest com­plaint was that par­tic­i­pants re­ceived lit­tle in the way of sup­port for the Dec. 4-7 event, even though Vet­er­ans Stand for Stand­ing Rock or­ga­niz­ers Wes­ley Clark Jr. and Michael A. Wood Jr. had promised food and shel­ter af­ter rais­ing more than $1.1 mil­lion on Go­FundMe.

In a video, Mr. Clark said he re­al­ized the fol­low through had been “atro­cious and chaotic,” which he at­trib­uted to “the na­ture of self-or­ga­niz­ing,” the dif­fi­cul­ties with ac­cess­ing the crowd­fund­ing money, and the un­ex­pect­edly large crowd.

Mr. Wood said more than 4,000 par­tic­i­pants ar­rived even though the plan was for 1,500 to 2,000, many of whom were dis­ap­pointed at not be­ing able to do much af­ter the snow­storm hit.

“Maybe the big­gest prob­lem re­ally was that we won just by show­ing up, and a lot of peo­ple wanted to do some­thing, and it wasn’t sit­ting in a bliz­zard,” Mr. Wood told the anti-pipe­line news out­let Young Turks. “It was to do some kind of ac­tion. I think there’s a good bit of, ‘Hey, the bliz­zard hit us, we weren’t ready for that, and we didn’t get to do any­thing very ex­cit­ing be­cause we got snowed in.’”

Pro­test­ers have been camped out on fed­eral land since Aug. 10 in an ef­fort to stop the 1,172-mile, four-state project, which is more than 90 per­cent com­plete, over con­cerns about wa­ter qual­ity and his­toric relics.

Sev­eral vet­er­ans said on so­cial me­dia they were forced to use their own pro­vi­sions to help other vets and pro­test­ers stuck in the bliz­zard with­out ad­e­quate sup­plies, while Mr. Clark and Mr. Wood were nowhere to be found.

“The ac­tions of Wes Clark and Michael Wood are de­plorable and should be met with scorn and scru­tiny; they put lives at risk with their care­less­ness and reck­less­ness,” said Sam Deer­ing in a Face­book post. “They got the me­dia at­ten­tion they de­sired and hung the rest of us out to dry.”

Af­ter be­ing in­un­dated with com­plaints, Vet­er­ans Stand for Stand­ing Rock said in a Face­book post that those who turn in re­ceipts will be re­im­bursed for their ex­penses, with the re­main­der go­ing to the tribe.

“No one has aban­doned any­one. Wes may have left his tent but I as­sure you there was a good rea­son for that,” said the page’s ad­min­is­tra­tor. “Please have faith in our project. We are all work­ing so hard to make all of this hap­pen and ev­ery dime of the money will be ac­counted for.”

Oth­ers pointed to the event’s pos­i­tive mo­ments, in­clud­ing a cel­e­bra­tion at the camp fea­tur­ing fire­works af­ter the ease­ment was can­celed.

At a Mon­day cer­e­mony, Mr. Clark and other vet­er­ans apol­o­gized for the ac­tions of the U.S. govern­ment and knelt be­fore tribal el­ders.

“We’ve hurt you in so many ways, but we’ve come to say that we are sorry, we are at your ser­vice and we beg for your for­give­ness,” said Mr. Clark, who was wear­ing a mil­i­tary uni­form, in a video posted on­line.

Mr. Ar­cham­bault thanked the pro­test­ers in a Mon­day video and then asked them to leave.

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