Following recent reports claiming that the Dakota Access Pipeline would again be given the go-ahead, police and National Guard forces raided the Standing Rock camps on Wednesday afternoon.
Law enforcement blocked the road leading into the camp at the northern and southern ends, according to emerging reports from the scene, after rallying protesters together. CBC claimed in a report, “Law enforcement have evicted about 40 Dakota Access pipeline opponents from a camp the demonstrators set up on higher ground near their flood-prone main camp in southern North Dakota”, whilst social media reports state that over 50 people had already been arrested.
Live streaming videos continued to be recorded amongst the commotion, and one by Shiyé Bidzííl stated that American politician Chase Iron Eyes was a vocal pipeline opponent and a leader against the building of the pipeline. The police were heavily militarized and travelled across Highway 1806’s Backwater Bridge from the north, a barricade that neither authorities of water protectors have crossed since November.
Further social media posts also showed that the Bureau of Indian Affairs police had put roadblocks in place in order to prevent anyone entering the camps whilst the raid was being carried out. Reports have suggested that the government forces plan to clear a new camp that had been set up on the ground above the floodplain of Oceti Sakowin, which has been the main camp since April last year.
Prior to this, the company responsible for the Dakota Access, Energy Transfer Partners, stopped the construction following orders from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stating that a full environmental impact statement must be carried out to assess the situation. However, two other orders were also in place during this time. One from the Corps and one from North Dakota Governor, Jack Dalrymple, which cut the access by emergency services to the camps, and stated that anyone who was present could be arrested for trespassing.
Senator John Hoeven recently issued a statement announcing, “Today, the Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer informed us that he has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with the easement needed to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline. This will enable the company to complete the project, which can and will be built with the necessary safety features to protect the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others downstream.
“We are also working with the Corps, the Department of Justice, the Department of Interior and the Department of Homeland Security to secure additional federal law enforcement resources to support state and local law enforcement. On Sunday, 20 additional Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement officers arrived at Standing Rock to assist local authorities. Also, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council has asked the protesters to leave the campsite on Corps land.”
As the spring snow is melting, camps are being flooded, leading Standing Rock Sioux Tribe leaders to urge the non-resident water protectors to return home. Although the number of protesters has declined after numerous orders from authorities, at least 300 more people recently started a new camp above the floodplain. Emerging reports have claimed that militarized riot police and National Guard troops are currently positioned on the road overlooking the camps, backed up by armoured vehicles, as if they are waiting for another advancement during the night.