The confrontations between Dakota Access oil pipeline Water Protectors and local authorities have escalated over the course of the past few months. As each headline appears to show a growing degree of inhumane treatment, the most recent incident reveals a new low from police on the scene.
According to the Washington Post, police formed a line in front of Water Protectors in Cannon Ball N.D. and used a water house mounted on top of an armored vehicle to spray them despite the freezing temperatures in the 20’s.
Water Protectors also reported officers firing rubber bullets, tear gas and concussion grenades on Sunday night.
“Last night was a really critical life or death situation,” Linda Black Elk, a member of the Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council of the Catawba tribe, told NBC News. “There were hundreds of people out on the frontlines. People were first soaked down with tear gas and then sprayed with a bunch of water.”
Water Protectors and their supporters are concerned about the lengths that local authorities will go to push back against them so that the pipeline can be built, despite the negative consequences that it would have on the community.
200-300 people were reportedly shipped to a nearby gymnasium to be treated for hypothermia and other injuries.
“From the beginning, we’ve had water protectors attacked by guard dogs, rubber bullets and mace. Last night, law enforcement upped the ante by using exploding tear gas canisters and water cannons in sub-freezing temperatures,” said Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II. “There’s no telling what law enforcement will do next.”
Local authorities have attempted to justify their actions by claiming that they were only used to put an end to fires that were started by protectors and supporters and denied spraying any people. However, Facebook video that was captures clearly shows Water Protectors being sprayed with no fires in sight.
“They’re saying that we’re causing multiple fires out here, but we’re really only using them to stay warm,” said E’sha Hoferer. “I’m just a father with a phone that loves his water, that wants his water to be clean for his children and grandchildren.”
The clash was reportedly started because protests were attempting to clear a road block police promised to remove weeks ago for emergency supplies.