Private security agents used attack dogs and pepper spray on the weekend to disrupt protesters confronting construction crews installing a partly Canadian-owned pipeline across North Dakota near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.
Hundreds of tribal and other opponents have gathered near the site where the Dakota Access oil pipeline has been routed across the Missouri River, less than two kilometres upstream from the reservation.
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“The tribe fears the project will disturb sacred sites and impact drinking water for thousands of tribal members on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and millions farther downstream,” the Associated Press reports.
During the private security contractors’ response to disperse the protesters, their dogs bit six people, and more than 30 were pepper-sprayed, a Sioux spokesperson later told AP. The local Morton County sheriff’s office said no law enforcement officials were present at the confrontation, and it received no reports of injuries.
Countercurrent News carried photos of the dog and pepper spray attacks, and at least one Facebook meme compared the incident to anti-segregation protests in Selma, Alabama in 1965. “Several Native American groups have been circulating videos of the pepper-spraying by the security forces, as well as the dog attacks,” the online news outlet reports.
Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. has a 40% stake in the $3.8-billion project, which would push the 500,000 barrel-a-day pipeline more than 1,800 kilometres across four states from North Dakota to Illinois.
Last month, InsideClimate News revealed that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, “which has jurisdiction over domestic pipelines that cross major waterways” in the United States, had approved the pipeline’s route near the reservation in July against the advice of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation—all of which had expressed “the same objections being voiced by the Standing Rock Sioux.”
“Citing risks to water supplies, inadequate emergency preparedness, potential impacts to the Standing Rock reservation, and insufficient environmental justice analysis,” ICN reports, the three agencies urged the Corps to reroute the pipeline. Instead, the Corps asserted that the crossing’s “anticipated environmental, economic, cultural, and social effects” were “not injurious to the public interest.”
In the wake of the weekend’s violence, the Standing Rock Sioux filed a request for a temporary restraining order against the construction work, Indian Country Today reports.
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