Water protectors locked themselves to machinery on Tuesday, halting construction two days after the Dakota Access pipeline company bulldozed sacred burial sites. (Photo: UnicornRiot.Ninja)
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg on Tuesday reportedly denied an emergency request for a restraining order filed by the Standing Rock Sioux, however, the hearing is being seen as a partial victory for the tribe.
In a press conference, a representative for the tribe explained that an "agreement" was reached, however, under which the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) company will not continue construction on the area east of North Dakota Highway 1806, which is under jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers, until Friday, when Boasberg is expected to issue his ruling on the preliminary injunction. The judge said he did not have jurisdiction to suspend activities on both sides of the highway.
In a statement, Standing Rock Sioux chairman David Archambault II said, "We are disappointed that the U.S. District Court’s decision does not prevent DAPL from destroying our sacred sites as we await a ruling on our original motion to stop construction of the pipeline."
Hours before a federal judge is expected to rule on an emergency request for a restraining order, filed in response to the holiday weekend desecration of sacred sites, Indigenous activists in North Dakota once again halted construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) on Tuesday.
According to images shared on social media and reporting on the ground, multiple protectors, as they refer to themselves, have locked themselves to construction equipment.
"Many tribal nations, our allies—everybody’s here as water protectors. This land is ours! This water is ours!" declared Cody Hall, a representative from the Red Warrior Camp, standing in front of the occupied machinery.
The action comes just days after security forces hired by pipeline parent company Energy Transfer Partners viciously attacked tribal demonstrators with dogs and mace.
"They won’t drag us down, they won’t push us back," Hall continued. "We are here and we will make sure this snake dies."
One of the individuals on lockdown, Jules from the Oglala Lakota nation, explained how construction of the 1,172-mile crude oil pipeline would not only imperil the sacred water of the Standing Rock Sioux, but also harm native communities, which struggle with drug abuse and violence against women.
"I’m here on lockdown to send a message that our water is sacred, our women are sacred, our children are sacred," said Jules, who is founder of the Mothers Against Meth Alliance. "And these pipelines bring in man camps and hardcore drugs, which leads to sex trafficking of native women, which leads to missing and murdered native women. So that’s why I’m here today."
Updates on the situation are being shared with the hashtags #NoDAPL and #RezpectOurWater.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) September 7, 2016
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., attorneys representing the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux are preparing to argue before U.S. District Judge James Boasberg that Dakota Access deliberately rerouted construction over the holiday weekend to target traditional burial grounds and ritual sites—the exact location of which were identified (pdf) in court filings (pdf) on Friday.
Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman is seeking a temporary restraining order to halt construction in and around the site until Boasberg issues his ruling on the preliminary injunction requested by the tribes, which is expected to be handed down on Friday.
For its part, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the defendant in the case, has said it would comply with a temporary halt in construction.
Speaking to Democracy Now! on Tuesday, Hasselman reiterated how important these ancient burial sites are to the Standing Rock Sioux and the "shock and anguish" felt by the tribes when it was clear that Energy Transfer Partners took the newly filed information about the archaeological sites and "12 hours later, the bulldozers were out."
Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who also appeared on Democracy Now!, said that both the dog attack and the desecration of sacred sites are examples of how, throughout this months-long standoff, the pipeline company as well as the North Dakota government have tried to incite violence from the peaceful prayer camps.
"I think what happens is the company or the government…doesn’t understand how peaceful, prayerful standoffs work," he said. "They look for confrontation. So, that’s what they know how to deal with. But when it’s prayerful and peaceful and when it’s something that the youth want, they have to try to figure out how to deal with us."
With over 100 tribal nations now represented at the prayer camps, resistance has grown tremendously since April when the Standing Rock Sioux received notice of the construction. Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and her vice president Ajama Baraka also expressed support appearing at the protest Tuesday.
"It’s one of the most beautiful things that I’m fortunate to witness," said Archambault of the outpouring of tribal solidarity. "I think when tribes come together in unity and with prayer, there’s a lot of healing that is taking place. And the tribes that are all coming, every one of them will share a story on how the government or how the corporate world has infringed on their indigenous rights, has infringed on their indigenous land, has contaminated their environment or their water in one way or another. And this unity coming together just says it’s time to stop."
Watch the Democracy Now! segment below: