Breaking News February 22-23
Government Launches Criminal Shutdown of Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock
Updated February 23, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Update 2/23/17: With militarized personnel carriers, guns and bulldozers, authorities demolished the Oceti Sakowin camp near Standing Rock this afternoon. Roads in and out of the camp were closed. Leading up to the assault, journalists were targeted for arrest. Forty-six people in the camp were arrested. Only an hour after authorities began to bulldoze the camp, the North Dakota governor signed into law four fascist bills directed at suppressing protest, including expanding criminal trespassing laws, making it illegal to cover your face with a mask or hood while committing a crime (directed at protesters), and increased penalties for “rioting” (obviously directed at activists who were the victims of ongoing state violence).
Activist Ruth Hopkins tweeted:“Knifing tipis and pointing loaded rifles at the occupants. It’s the 1800s all over again.” Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, said. “Our hearts are not defeated. The closing of the camp is not the end of a movement or fight. It is a new beginning. They cannot extinguish the fire that Standing Rock started.” As the camp was being shut down, hundreds of protesters rallied in Washington, DC, demanding no Dakota Access Pipeline.
February 22: The state of North Dakota, backed by the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. government, began its criminal shutdown of the Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock today. As we’ve reported, this is a critical juncture in the battle to stop the Dakota Access oil pipeline (DAPL), which threatens the water, lands, treaty rights, cultures, and the very existence of the Standing Rock and other Sioux tribes, and Earth’s environment itself. A heroic battle by the Standing Rock Sioux, some 200 other Native American peoples, and many thousands of others has blocked completion of DAPL for nearly a year.
After surrounding the camp with police and other enforcers, the state had set a deadline of 2 pm Central Time today for the estimated 200 plus people—“water protectors”—who remained at the camp to leave. Facing the possibility of a violent police assault, some 100 reportedly marched out of the camp before the deadline, chanting and playing drums. One resister told the New York Times that some water protectors had burned some of the remaining buildings at the camp as “an act of defiance…It’s saying: ‘If you are going to make us leave our home, you cannot take our space. We’ll burn it to the ground and let the earth take it back before you take it from us.’” Others said the burnings were ceremonial.
At this writing, different news outlets are reporting either 9 or 10 people were arrested—some brutally—for marching up to one of the state road blocks. And some 50-75 people remain in the camp, with the police reportedly saying they will evict them and finish shutting down the camp on Thursday.
The water protectors remaining at Oceti Sakowin camp say they’re taking a “Treaty Stand”—because the camp is on Sioux tribal land under the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie. "We are all at risk of facing arrest, police brutality, federal charges and prison time," one resister said. (Democracy Now!, February 22)
Oceti Sakowin camp has been the main camp where people have come together to oppose DAPL. Of the several protest camps, Oceti Sakowin is the closest to where the DAPL will go under the Missouri River—the source of water crucial to the lives of the Standing Rock Sioux and many others in the region. Many thousands (an estimated 10,000 at one point) from all over the world have come together there to resist the pipeline and support the Standing Rock and other Sioux tribes. Many speak of the community of resistance that was forged—radically different than life-as-usual in the racist, misogynist, dog-eat-dog USA. “This was beautiful what was built here," one resister said today.
North Dakota and the federal government are forcibly shutting down Oceti Sakowin behind the flimsy excuse that it’s an environment hazard. In reality they’re doing so to clear the way for an environment-destroying oil pipeline and to attempt to shut down what has become powerful focal point of resistance to this system’s crimes which has inspired people globally.
These dangerous developments come in the wake of the Trump/Pence fascist regime taking power and quickly stepping up the government’s assault on resisters at Standing Rock—and on all who support them. Four days after Trump’s inauguration, he signed an executive order demanding the Army Corps of Engineers accelerate its review and approval of the pipeline’s construction. The attack on the courageous resisters at Standing Rock is a screaming outrage and a crime against the people. And many at Standing Rock vow that the battle is not over.
Halt the Illegitimate Assault on Oceti Sakowin Camp!
No Arrests of Water Protectors!
If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.