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Brown writes: "As police unleashed streams of icy water Sunday night against Dakota Access pipeline demonstrators, Linda Black Elk, a member of the Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council, was helping care for injured demonstrators. The council estimated that 300 people were treated for injuries, including 26 who were taken to area hospitals."

Dakota Access pipeline protests. (photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Minneapolis Star Tribune/ZUMA Wire/Newscom)
Dakota Access pipeline protests. (photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Minneapolis Star Tribune/ZUMA Wire/Newscom)


Medics Describe How Police Sprayed Standing Rock Demonstrators With Tear Gas and Water Cannons

By Alleen Brown, The Intercept

22 November 16

 

s police unleashed streams of icy water Sunday night against Dakota Access pipeline demonstrators, Linda Black Elk, a member of the Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council, was helping care for injured demonstrators. The council estimated that 300 people were treated for injuries, including 26 who were taken to area hospitals.

“What it was like was people walking through the dark of a winter North Dakota night, some of them so cold, and sprayed with water for so long, that their clothes were frozen to their body and crunching as they walked. So you could hear this crunching sound and this pop-pop-pop, and people yelling [to the police], ‘We’ll pray for you! We love you!’” Black Elk said, describing the scene as police sprayed protesters with water and fired tear gas and rubber bullets during the more than six-hour standoff.

“All of a sudden there were these bright, blinding spotlights, so you could see each other, but you couldn’t see [the police],” she said. “Every once in awhile you could hear someone scream who had been hit by a rubber bullet.”

In the midst of the clash, the Medic and Healer Council, which was set up to provide health support to those fighting the pipeline, released a statement pleading with police to halt the use of water cannons. “As medical professionals, we are concerned for the real risk of loss of life due to severe hypothermia under these conditions,” the statement said.

The standoff began after pipeline opponents attempted to use a semitruck to remove two charred military vehicles from a bridge. The vehicles were serving as a blockade between the large encampment known as Oceti Sakowin, which has served as a base for blocking the pipeline, and construction sites accessible farther down the highway. Beyond the burned-out vehicles stood cement road barriers topped with razor wire, behind which police and other security officials have been standing guard since the end of October. Their presence means a detour for those traveling between the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and the city of Bismarck, including emergency medical services.

In a statement on Sunday, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department explained the bridge closing, saying, “North Dakota Department of Transportation has closed the Backwater Bridge due to damage caused after protesters set numerous fires on the bridge October 27. In addition, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has requested Morton County to prevent protesters from trespassing on [U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] land north of the camp.”

According to the sheriff’s department, approximately 400 people were involved in the protest. When asked in a press conference Monday about the use of water cannons, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said, “We don’t have water cannons,” explaining, “This is just a fire hose.”

“It was sprayed more as a mist, and we didn’t want to get it directly on them, but we wanted to make sure to use it as a measure to help keep everybody safe,” he said. “We’re just not going to let people and protesters in large groups come in and threaten officers. That’s not happening.”

The department characterized the protesters’ actions as “very aggressive,” saying that projectiles had been thrown at police, injuring one officer. Medics on the ground said the demonstrators they observed were unarmed and largely nonviolent. The department said it had requested additional assistance from law enforcement around the state, and that border patrol would be providing support.

Noah Morris was another medic at the scene. “They were just hosing people down with their water cannon that continued for the entirety of the four hours I was out there watching,” he said. He said that earlier in the week, the rivers and creeks nearby had started to crust over with ice. As he and his team flushed the eyes of people sprayed with tear gas, the water and milk of magnesia they used turned to black ice on the ground.

Morris said he knew of multiple people that had been hit in the head with rubber bullets or bean bag rounds. In a statement, the Medic and Healer Council described injuries including an elder who lost consciousness before being revived on site, a man who experienced a seizure, and a woman whose eye was injured when she was shot in the face by a rubber bullet.

A 21-year-old woman from New York, Sophia Wilansky, underwent surgery Monday after her arm was severely injured by a concussion grenade, according to the council.

In a statement on Tuesday, her father, Wayne Wilansky, said she would need multiple surgeries to regain functional use of her arm and hand. “All of the muscle and soft tissue between her elbow and wrist were blown away,” he said. “She will be, every day for the foreseeable future, fearful of losing her arm and hand.”

In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, the sheriff’s department denied using concussion grenades and suggested the injury was caused by explosives allegedly used by protesters. The Medic and Healer Council responded, “These statements are refuted by Sophia’s testimony, by several eyewitnesses who watched police intentionally throw concussion grenades at unarmed people, by the lack of charring of flesh at the wound site, and by the grenade pieces that have been removed from her arm in surgery and will be saved for legal proceedings.”

Some of the injured were transported to the Oceti Sakowin camp, which lies a few minutes’ walk from the demonstration site. There, thousands of people have convened in an effort to stop the Dakota Access pipeline from threatening the drinking water and cultural resources of members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and others living downstream. If completed, the pipeline will transport oil from the Bakken shale fields in North Dakota to a transfer point in Illinois, dipping underneath the Missouri River just to the north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. Tribal leaders are fighting in court to stop it, but the corporation behind the plan, Energy Transfer Partners, has argued the opportunity to reroute the pipeline has already passed. In a recent interview with the Associated Press, the company’s CEO, Kelcy Warren, declared, “There’s not another way. We’re building at that location.”

At the camp, the injured were treated inside winterized structures that have been erected alongside less-protected camping tents. Other demonstrators were taken to a nearby gym, where medics attempted to raise body temperatures with blankets and hot beverages.

Black Elk, a resident of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, has been involved in the fight against the pipeline since last February, when community members first learned of plans to build it. She’s an ethnobotanist and instructor at the local Sitting Bull College and has served as a cultural liaison for the Medic and Healer Council. She said she’s seen police reactions to the protests become “progressively more militant, more violent.”

Morris recalled a protest at the end of the summer when police provided water to a thirsty protester who was attached to construction equipment. He says things have changed since then.

“We are standing back in a state of disbelief,” said Jesse Lopez, a surgeon based in Kansas City, who has traveled to North Dakota multiple times to support the Medic and Healer Council. “I maybe could see pepper spray, maybe rubber bullets, maybe tear gas, but water cannons? That’s done to inflict deliberate, severe, life-threatening harm.”

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+20 # Farafalla 2016-11-23 00:09
No comments yet? Really? Militarized police go after peaceful native protesters who are struggling not only for their own existence but that of the whole planet. Trump has investments in this pipeline. We know how this is going to turn out. Let's dedicate Thanksgiving to Standing Rock and the native peoples who are putting their bodies on the line to save us from fossil fuel dictatorship.
 
 
+14 # jimallyn 2016-11-23 01:21
Quoting Farafalla:
No comments yet? Really?

Maybe there are no comments because like me, everybody is at a loss for what to say. "Fuck the pigs," maybe?
 
 
+11 # lorenbliss 2016-11-23 00:58
The lack of comments here, the diminishing number of comments on other RSN threads and the noticeable reduction of thumb-reactions are all proofs of the fear settling in over Nazi USia. All of us know Obama has reduced the Bill of Rights to toilet paper, thereby clearing the way for Trump to assume the same powers Hitler had in Germany, and a great many of us have already been terrified to silence, as the vast majority will be after 20 January in this Moron Nation of craven cowards.

As always, capitalism and moral imbecility rule: that's because -- for the vast majority of USians -- their material possessions are their sole (and soul) identity. And they would rather see all their neighbors murdered than give up the trinkets and baubles that define their selfhood.
 
 
+19 # nancyw 2016-11-23 02:25
How are they gettting away with this?! How can police be allowed to hurt people this way without any provocation. Where is Obama? Where are the mayors and governors, senators and representatives ? I don't get it. Where is the call for the National Guard to protect the people from a corporation that is defying Obama'S command to stop, postpone, whatever? We are living on an insane country. We are imprisoned by corporations, mentally, and now physically.
 
 
+6 # Capn Canard 2016-11-23 07:13
nancyw, do note that the MSM is painfully silent. Wealth/banking controls the press(and Government as well) and that is why we will hear nothing. It is far bigger than Obama. Obama is just a tool.
 
 
+4 # RnR 2016-11-23 09:34
For one, Comcast dictates what can and can not be discussed on MSNBC although I'm not sure if the "reporters" would even go there.
 
 
0 # Cassandra2012 2016-11-26 13:41
Quoting nancyw:
How are they gettting away with this?! How can police be allowed to hurt people this way without any provocation. Where is Obama? Where are the mayors and governors, senators and representatives? I don't get it. Where is the call for the National Guard to protect the people from a corporation that is defying Obama'S command to stop, postpone, whatever? We are living on an insane country. We are imprisoned by corporations, mentally, and now physically.

They're working for the Koch Bros and the rest of the fossil fuel/fool barons....
 
 
+12 # RnR 2016-11-23 06:13
This is the future for *all* of us if we don't stop this. They're practicing on the people with the least ability to fight back. We need to wake up.
 
 
+4 # elizabethblock 2016-11-23 08:49
Maybe people aren't commenting because there's no need, the story speaks for itself.
 
 
+4 # elizabethblock 2016-11-23 08:50
Rubber bullets can blind. And kill. If they haven't yet at Standing Rock, it's only a matter of time.
 
 
+2 # MPCicerchi 2016-11-23 09:38
Thank you Anonymous!
 
 
+3 # newell 2016-11-23 10:53
I've been involved in many protests and have never seen or heard of water cannons being sprayed on protesters in freezing weather--especi ally where there is no place to get warm. This is a fresh new hell from the 1%---and never doubt that our enemy is the 1% that hire, train and pay the police. The police are not the enemy--they are just hired thugs. The 1% is our enemy and always has been no matter what they called themselves in the past: royalty, oligarchy, nobility, the rich or our "betters".
 
 
0 # Cassandra2012 2016-11-26 13:44
Maybe they want violence so as to justify repression and camps and tell the unwary that these people praying over their land being destroyed by the the fossil fuel barbarians are really 'thugs' and lawbreakers etc. etc. when in fact it is these lackeys to the corporate oligarchy that are the real lawbreakers, the soulless lawbreakers at that!

They just want an excuse to be violent to a group they never respected in the first place.
 
 
+4 # sjporter 2016-11-23 11:57
Here's some good news - Nov. 23,
"Hundreds of Veterans to Join Water Protectors at Standing Rock to Protest Dakota Access Pipeline" and, while I'm sorry it takes more than the cause, the Protectors, and what's going on to capture media attention, this could help do so - http://www.ecowatch.com/veterans-standing-rock-dakota-access-pipeline-2106672407.html?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=dd825a54f2-MailChimp+Email+Blast&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-dd825a54f2-85365981
 

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