Tribe: Police conducted ‘a deliberate act of terror’ at ND pipeline protest

Tribe: Police conducted ‘a deliberate act of terror’ at ND pipeline protest

Police conducted a “deliberate act of terror” while confronting Dakota Access Pipeline protesters over the weekend, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said Tuesday. 

Police used water cannons and rubber bullets on protesters in a confrontation near the pipeline’s planned route on Sunday night.

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Dave Archambault, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, on Tuesday said President Obama should step in and block the pipeline and help defuse law enforcement actuates there. 

He said 300 of the “water protector” protesters were treated for injuries after the event, including one women who may lose her arm after being hit by a projectile. 

“The reckless escalation of violence by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department is unconscionable and preventable. It must stop now,” Archambault said.

“There was no reason to launch an attack against water protectors at the camp in the middle of the night unless you wanted to try and prevent the media from seeing what you were doing. None. Blasting these innocent people with concussion grenades, rubber bullets the size of baseballs and a water cannon in freezing weather was a deliberate act of terror sanctioned by the sheriff.” 

The sheriff’s office has defended the policing activities, saying Dakota Access protesters were blocking a public road, staring fires in the region and throwing things at officers.

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier has blamed the protests on “violent actions” within the gathering of people opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline north of Bismarck, N.D.

The water cannon, he said Monday, “was used at a time to where they were aggressive toward the officers, and when that was no longer occurring, the water wasn't used anymore. And it was sprayed more as a mist.” 

The tribe, anti-pipeline activists and even human rights organizations have criticized the tactics, especially spraying water on protesters while temperatures were below freezing.

“Any use of force — such as the water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets — by law enforcement officers must be necessary and proportionate to the threat posed,” Amnesty International USA Executive Director Margaret Huang wrote in a letter to the sheriff on Monday.