FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Sleepless in Standing Rock

Photo by Jeffrey Putney | CC BY 2.0

Photo by Jeffrey Putney | CC BY 2.0

With the Nov. 1 explosion in Georgia of Colonial’s gas pipeline killing one, injuring five, and burning 31 acres, the $3.8 billion crude oil Dakota Access Pipeline project is looking dirtier than ever.

Last week, a colleague and I visited the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s nonviolent resistance encampment just north of Cannon Ball, ND — alternately called Seven Council Fire Camp and Sacred Stone Camp — which has gathered thousands of activists, Indian and non-Indian, from 300 indigenous nations in the Americas and around the world, in the words of tribal chairman David Archambault, “in solidarity against the pipeline.”

The difference — so far — between the Georgia and Dakota disasters is that up north only the militarized police forces are endangering life and limb — repeatedly attacking and relentlessly harassing the large, well-organized, encampment of peaceful, nonviolent and mostly prayerful self-proclaimed Water Protectors.

Beyond the eco-disaster threatened by running DAP’s 30-inch oil pipe under the wide Missouri River near Cannon Ball, Standing Rock is opposed to the DAP’s desecration of cultural heritage sites and burial grounds by way of its enormous ditch digging machinery. The firm Energy Transfer, based in Texas, is digging the 1,172-mile trench to move Bakken and Three Forks oil field crude south.

Driving south to the camp from Mandan, police and State Patrol officers had set road blocks across Hwy 1806, so no one could reach Standing Rock from the north. State Troopers told us to drive around on “136.” When we found that gravel road, it too was blocked by deputies, this time from Vilas County in eastern Wisconsin — almost three states away.

Our last attempt to reach the camp from the west was blocked by Washington County, Wisconsin deputies (from Milwaukee) who openly complained about their assignment. Asked if they’d tried the buffet at the casino, they griped, “We’re doing 12-hour shifts for two weeks straight; then they’re sending us home. No time for anything else.” Protests against the use far flung police forces have occurred in Minneapolis and elsewhere.

We arrived at camp Oct. 27 just a few hours after hundreds of national guard, state patrol, deputy sheriff and municipal police officers from seven states, some carrying assault rifles, had attacked the blockade or “frontline” camp using armored vehicles, pepper spray, mace, tear gas, beanbag guns, stun guns, concussion or flash-bang grenades, noise cannon, rubber bullets, armored Humvees and a bull dozer. The assault ultimately saw 143 arrested at the site, about three miles north of the major Standing Rock encampment.

In the aftermath of the military-style clearing action, a few dozen gathered around a large campfire and listened to speaker after speaker describe the traumatic affects the police riot had had on children of the front-line camp. We heard elders and organizers repeatedly appeal for strict adherence to nonviolence. In the long-standing tradition of peaceful revolutionaries everywhere, speakers offered prayers not just for the 143 battered arrestees, including a pregnant 17-yr-old — who were reported sent to scattered and distant jails, kept in dog-kennels without furniture, and subjected to the Nazi-like numbering of their arms with permanent markers — but prayed also for the arresting police that they might overcome the stress and trauma disorders that result from perpetrating violence.

The one night we spent tenting out in the Seven Council Fire camp was mostly sleepless because of the police airplane that maintained an eight-hour-long buzzing of the camp. Once we’d fall asleep, the plane would roar overhead and wake us again. One middle-aged woman we tented near, who’d grown up on the Standing Rock Res, told us she’d been on site since mid-April and that the planes, drones and helicopters were overhead every night since June. I wondered how anyone managed to sleep through the noise and about the general level of harassment-induced stress.

A day after the police riot, Amnesty International dispatched a team of human rights observers to the Standing Rock to monitor police conduct the standoff.

The Standing Rock struggle has inspired thousands to join the camp, and organizers repeatedly urged others to join them, get ready for winter, and help stop the pipeline.

*******

Most news reports note that the North Dakota crude oil headed for the DAP will be pumped to Patoka, Illinois. But this is not the end point. Catherine Ngai and Liz Hampton reported for Reuters Aug. 12 that the oil is going to Gulf Coast refineries from which it can be shipped anywhere, debunking claims that the project is about energy for the United States.

Reuters said: “The 450,000 barrel-per-day Dakota Access line, when it opens in the fourth quarter, will [provide] U.S. Gulf refiners another option for crude supply. Gulf Coast refiners and North Dakota oil producers will reap the benefits….

“The pipeline, currently under construction, will connect western North Dakota to the Energy Transfer Crude Oil Pipeline Project (ETCOP) in Patoka, Illinois. From there, it will connect to the Nederland and Port Arthur, Texas, area, where refiners including Valero Energy, Total and Motiva Enterprises operate some of the largest U.S. refining facilities.”

Bloomberg reported Aug. 3, “A unit of Enbridge Inc. and Marathon Petroleum Corp. have agreed to pay a combined $2 billion in cash for a stake in the Bakken pipeline system from an affiliate of Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics Partners. … The deal gives Enbridge the ability to move shale oil from the Bakken to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast, through connections to its mainline….

 The Bakken pipeline system consists of the Dakota Access Pipeline and Energy Transfer Crude Oil Pipeline. Dakota Access will run from western North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois, and the Energy Transfer line from Patoka to Nederland, Texas.”

— Researcher Mina Hamilton compiled information on the Gulf Coast endpoint for the DAP oil.

More articles by:

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

August 20, 2018
Carl Boggs
The Road to Disaster?
James Munson
“Not With a Bomb, But a Whimper” … Then More Bombs.
Jonathan Cook
Corbyn’s Labour Party is Being Made to Fail –By Design
Robert Fisk
A US Trade War With Turkey Over a Pastor? Don’t Believe It
Howard Lisnoff
The Mass Media’s Outrage at Trump: Why the Surprise?
Faisal Khan
A British Muslim’s Perspective on the Burkha Debate
Andrew Kahn
Inhumanity Above the Clouds
Dan Glazebrook
Trump’s New Financial War on the Global South
George Wuerthner
Why the Gallatin Range Deserves Protection
Ted Rall
Is Trump a Brand-New Weird Existential Threat? No.
Sheldon Richman
For the Love of Reason
Susie Day
Why Pundits Scare Me
Dean Baker
Does France’s Economy Need to Be Renewed?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Mighty Voice for Peace Has Gone Silent: Uri Avnery, 1923-2018
Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail