The Oceti Sakowin Camp is a historic gathering of tribes, allies, and people from all walks of life standing in solidarity to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline. Mini Wiconi (Lakota for “Water is Life”)
Police have responded to protesters in some instances with pepper spray, bean bags, and other controversial means, and used private security staff with guard dogs in one confrontation with protesters that included women and children. Amnesty International also reports that those recently arrested have reported being strip searched and forced to pay bail for minor offenses.Members of the media and legal observers have also been arrested or charged with minor offenses.
“People here just want to stand up for the rights of Indigenous people and protect their natural resources. These people should not be treated like the enemy. Police must keep the peace using minimal force appropriate to the situation. Confronting men, women, and children while outfitted in gear more suited for the battlefield is a disproportionate response” – Eric Ferrero, director of communications for Amnesty International USA.
Blackwater Bridge is the dividing line between the Water Protectors and Oceti Camp which is to the south of the bridge on Highway 1806. Law enforcement are on the north end of the bridge behind concrete barriers with military vehicles facing south. I was able to hitch a ride with strangers from Washington State and we joined a caravan of about one hundred cars to travel to the north side of Blackwater Bridge via backroads. We were spotted by a helicopter and were met by County law enforcement and several green and white US Border Patrol vehicles just short of the entrance to the north side of the bridge. To their credit they allowed the Water Protectors to hold a prayer ceremony on the highway without disruption.
On the way my fellow passengers were singing a Chief Dan George’s prayer song for safe travel into unknown waters – it must have worked because there were no clashes or arrest.
Dear Friends in the Los Angeles area,
On November 16, 2016 I will be leaving Los Angeles for Standing Rock, North Dakota to document (video and still images) the protest of the North Dakota Access Pipeline. I will check in with the Tribal Council in Fort Yates, ND and drop off donated goods. If you would like to donate items for the people of the Sioux Nation let me know I am happy to take them with me. Beyond my cameras and audio gear the space in my Kia Sorento is limited but I do have a roof rack. If by chance you have extra 9volts batteries, AA batteries and AAA batteries I could sure use them for the production.
Thank you all for your support. – Dave Banks