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Dakota Pipeline Protests Face Harsh Repression in Freezing Cold

IN PICTURES: The world watched in horror as Native American-led opponents of DAPL were subject for hours to water cannons and less-lethal weaponry.

The months-long resistance to the US$3.78 billion Dakota Access pipeline took a terrifying turn Sunday night on North Dakota Highway 1806, north of the main Oceti Sakowin Camp, when hundreds of protesters faced repeated barrages of less-lethal munitions and water cannons for several hours in sub-freezing temperatures.

The police crackdown came in response to attempts by the water protectors – Native Americans and allied opponents of the oil pipeline – to remove barricades established by police on Oct. 27 to block the northbound lanes of Highway 1806, according to Indigenous environmental organizer Dallas Goldtooth. The water protectors have long maintained that the barricades block emergency services from reaching the camps, which have been virtually besieged by militarized law enforcement bodies and North Dakota National Guard personnel.

In addition to the water cannons, peaceful protesters also faced flash bangs that caused brush fires, jets of pepper spray, flash bang grenades, rubber bullets, Long-Range Acoustic Devices (LRAD) and tear gas. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department justified the repression, citing the fires – some of which were caused by police munitions and some which were started to warm those sprayed with water – and claiming that the protesters were "very aggressive" and were engaged in an "ongoing riot." Medics and journalists on the scene have claimed that police targeted the demonstrators' heads and legs.

In an urgent statement released at the time, physicians and tribal healers at the Standing Rock Medic and Healer council decried the wanton use of water cannons in 28 degree Fahrenheit conditions – a potentially deadly combination that could result in hypothermia due to the lack of facilities and equipment necessary for rewarming.

According to the Oceti Sakowin Medic team, by 1:30 a.m. local time nearly 200 people were injured, one elder went into cardiac arrest at the scene of the crackdown and 12 people were hospitalized for head injuries.

Denouncing the attack on peaceful protesters, the Indigenous Environmental Network stated: "The Morton County Sheriff’s Department, the North Dakota State Patrol, and the Governor of North Dakota are committing crimes against humanity. They are accomplices with the Dakota Access Pipeline LLC and its parent company Energy Transfer Partners in a conspiracy to protect the corporation’s illegal activities."

Continuing, the network noted: "Anyone investing and bankrolling these companies are accomplices. If President Obama does nothing to stop this inhumane treatment of this country’s original inhabitants, he will become an accomplice. And there is no doubt that President-elect Donald Trump is already an accomplice as he is invested in DAPL.”

teleSUR takes a look at the latest round of attacks on the water protectors who have placed their bodies on the line in defense of their land and the bodies of water endangered along the pipeline's path.

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Police use a water cannon on protesters during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Nov. 20, 2016.
Police use a water cannon on protesters during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Nov. 20, 2016. Photo:Reuters
Protesters stand off with police during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Nov. 20, 2016.
Protesters stand off with police during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Nov. 20, 2016. Photo:Reuters
A handout picture made available by the Morton County Sheriff's Department shows law enforcement officers involved in an ongoing riot with protesters on the Backwater Bridge, north of a protest camp in Morton County, North Dakota, Nov. 20, 2016.
A handout picture made available by the Morton County Sheriff's Department shows law enforcement officers involved in an ongoing riot with protesters on the Backwater Bridge, north of a protest camp in Morton County, North Dakota, Nov. 20, 2016. Photo:Morton County Sheriff's Department
A protester gets warm by a fire during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Nov. 20, 2016.
A protester gets warm by a fire during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Nov. 20, 2016. Photo:Reuters
Police confront protesters with a rubber bullet gun during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Nov. 20, 2016.
Police confront protesters with a rubber bullet gun during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Nov. 20, 2016. Photo:Reuters
Law enforcement officers surround demonstrators protesting against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline during a standoff at the Backwater Bridge in Morton County, North Dakota, Nov. 20, 2016.
Law enforcement officers surround demonstrators protesting against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline during a standoff at the Backwater Bridge in Morton County, North Dakota, Nov. 20, 2016. Photo:Morton County Sheriff's Department
Police use a water cannon on protesters during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Nov. 20, 2016.
Police use a water cannon on protesters during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Nov. 20, 2016. Photo:Reuters
A protester is given medical attention during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Nov. 20, 2016.
A protester is given medical attention during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Nov. 20, 2016. Photo:Reuters
Police use a water cannon on a protester during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Nov. 20, 2016.
Police use a water cannon on a protester during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Nov. 20, 2016. Photo:Reuters
Police use a water cannon on protesters while other protesters put out a fire started by a tear gas canister during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S., Nov. 20, 2016.
Police use a water cannon on protesters while other protesters put out a fire started by a tear gas canister during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S., Nov. 20, 2016. Photo:Reuters
Over 500 water protectors faced police water cannons amid sub-freezing temperatures.
Over 500 water protectors faced police water cannons amid sub-freezing temperatures. Photo:Unicorn Riot
"Police are tear gassing #NoDAPL water protectors, using the LRAD, stinger grenades, and firing less-lethal rounds into the crowd on Highway 1806 bridge in North Dakota. Police have formed a line with armored vehicles, concrete barriers, and razor wire. It is 27° and police have begun hosing down the unarmed crowd with a water cannon. Water protectors are using a semi truck in an attempt to remove burnt military vehicles which the police chained to concrete barriers weeks ago to keep the bridge blocked on 1806." Photo:Unicorn Riot
Several scenes of injured protesters were disseminated through social media, causing shock and continued outrage at the heavy-handed tactics used against the peaceful protesters.
Several scenes of injured protesters were disseminated through social media, causing shock and continued outrage at the heavy-handed tactics used against the peaceful protesters. Photo:@joshfoxfilm / Twitter
Ambulances attempted to assist those soaked by water cannons and jets of mace.
Ambulances attempted to assist those soaked by water cannons and jets of mace. Photo:@pjKingfisher / Twitter
Icicles visible on the concertina wire show that the conditions were potentially lethal for those soaked by police water cannons.
Icicles visible on the concertina wire show that the conditions were potentially lethal for those soaked by police water cannons. Photo:@pjKingfisher / Twitter
Published 21 November 2016
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