Dakota Access Pipeline Protestors: At the Hands of Officials
- Celine Grimard | November 23, 2016
In the United States, police and other officials are using brutal force against protestors, says an activist at the Oceti Sakowin Camp.
“The way we’re being treated, the way we’re being pinned to the floor and beaten and sprayed at with pepper spray and shot at with these plastic gun things, bullets the size of golf balls,” says Xochitl Lerma.
The Dakota Access Pipeline Protest began with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe fighting to protect their clean water, as on July 25 the DAPL was granted authorization to cross Lake Oahe. Now, however it has drawn attention from all over the country and around the globe.
Xochitl Lerma, an 18-year-old high school student from Sonoma, Calif., came down to the protest with her mother. Lerma said she is and will continue to “peacefully fight, and just protest and show them that this is sacred land. This is not to be destroyed. This is our land. This is the native land and there’s not going to be a pipeline coming through here.” Lerma plans to go home and come back with her brother and stay for as long as possible.
The camps are being winterized as the protestors plan on sticking it out indefinitely. They have donations of wood coming into the camp from other tribes and have staggered wood chopping stations throughout the camps. They have asked for donations of winter clothes and they are building a school for the children in the camps.
There are signs up all over the camp reminding protestors that it is a peaceful protest. There are also legal aides warning people who exit the camp that they could be arrested.
Alex Kubala was just returning from his grandfather’s funeral when he had heard that the north camp had been set up. On Oct. 27, he decided to go to the north camp.
“The next thing I know there is like military police coming from all over and in big armoured trucks and riot gear,” Kubala said, noting at the time of his arrest he was with a group of Elders who were praying with peace pipes.
"They jabbed me in the rib with their baton and then they grabbed me by my braids and pulled me in and behind the police line, I got lifted up and slammed down on the concrete," Kubala said. The arresting officers then proceeded to strip him of his grandfather’s dog tags and hat and they broke his goggles and took his shoes, Kubala said, adding he has not seen these items since.
“They zip tied me,” Kubala said. “I was hog tied.” Kubala says that the arresting officers wiped something into his nose and stuck their black gloved hands into his nostrils. “Then they carried me by my zip ties,” said Kubala.
Although this happened two-weeks ago, Kubala still has the marks on his wrists from the zip ties and the other injuries he acquired from the officials.
“They charged me with a felony for endangerment by a fire, I wasn’t nowhere near a fire, engaging in a riot and being a public nuisance” said Kubala.
Kubala has made it clear that he is staying until the end. “I’m here until we win or till I’m dead.”
On Oct 27, 141 protestors were arrested.
In a press releas the Morton County Sheriff’s department stated that, “law enforcement officers used a long range acoustic device (LRAD) which transmits a high-pitch tone” and “they have had to deploy pepper spray.”