Water Protectors Lock to Equipment Halting Dakota Access Construction

Wednesday morning, water protectors halted construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline by locking their bodies to trenching equipment on a worksite south of Mandan, North Dakota. Untrained officers took almost 7 hours to extract the last protector. Six were also arrested of the estimated ninety people who gathered to drum, sing, pray, and call for an immediate stop to construction. 

One ally was arrested while providing water to a locked down protector. She was forcibly pulled to the ground by two male law enforcement officers, despite repeated requests for a female officer. Her ankle was injured in the fall and she was transported to a hospital. Jeremiah Iron Road of Standing Rock was locked beneath a bulldozer and was removed without incident.

Iyuskin American Horse of the Sicangu Lakota (Rosebud Sioux Tribe) stood with his arms locked to the equipment for six hours while officers attempted to remove him. He told supporters, “I am here to protect the water for the children and all of the unborn, and to protect our ways of life. I came here to let them know that what they're doing is wrong. This is nonviolent civil disobedience- and this is what it comes down to, and I'm here. Aho Mitákuye Oyás'iŋ.”

After officers attempted to pry his arms loose by force, American Horse was placed in a makeshift harness and hooked to two cranes as officers and workers failed to complete the extraction. During this unsafe maneuver, crane cables caught on the bucket of the cherry picker, compromising the equipment and the safety of American Horse.

Photo by Justin Deegan

Photo by Justin Deegan

Law enforcement blocked all traffic on Highway 6 north and south from the action point. This effectively cut off all access to the Sacred Stone Camp and Standing Rock Reservation, as Highway 6 was the police-mandated detour route around the existing checkpoint on Highway 1806, which continues to restrict traffic to and from Bismarck. Both Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union have called for the roadblocks to be removed on grounds that they unjustifiably restrict freedom of movement and suppress free speech.

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues said yesterday that the U.S. must provide a "fair, independent, impartial, open, and transparent process to resolve this serious issue and to avoid escalation into violence and further human rights abuses."