Day #2 Bismarck, North Dakota

Sunday, November 20th. I had to spend the entire day organizing and figuring out my technology. I had purchased a selfie stick, memory chips, a new camera and everything had just been thrown into my luggage.

As I was figuring this out, the cleaning staff came to clean the room. I opened the door and there was this guy in an old thin tee shirt and jeans. He talked as he gathered up the used towels and trash. He said he was from Florida and he was really tired because he was doing many jobs starting over here in North Dakota. He had no warm clothes. As he left I gave him a pair of waterproof pants, thermal bottoms, and winter gloves. He was so thankful. He did not have anything that was warm but now he had one less thing to worry about. I had purchased these items for the water protectors, but this guy needed warm clothes Now. In addition, Leah had told me that the camp had gotten many clothing donations already. Sometimes things just present themselves to you and you must act.

I ordered some new winter boots from Walmart and met Vince, I had to ask him where to pick up the boots. He is a Walmart greeter and has worked there for 10 years. He described how the snow does not come up as high on the building as it used to . He said they don’t have to plow the parking lot as often. He was a very friendly man who was very easy to talk to. He used to live on the rez but now lives in Bismarck.

Sunday, November 21, 2016  Evening: I was online with my Facebook friend Shay who had connected me with her friend from Massachusetts, Ashley Bays. Ashley was just arriving in the evening to the Oceti Sakowin camp and I was making arrangements to meet her afterwards so that we could go get needed supplies. However, it was getting late and I had not heard back from her. I was online at 7:30 p.m. as I watched in horror what was happening at the bridge. Here is the story as it unfolded and as I heard it from eyewitnesses – around 7:00 p.m. law enforcement from the other side of the barricade had sent over a flare that began a fire. Water protectors ran in to put out the fire. There were also water protectors removing some of the burned vehicles that was on the bridge in front of the razor wire and concrete barricade that DAPL and law enforcement had erected behind this mess. In the photos and video, the razor wire and barricade is clearly seen. People dressed in regular winter gear are not going to get over that wire. That is just common sense observation. Men dressed in full riot gear, helmets, and armed are not going to get hurt from a bunch of everyday citizens who are unarmed, some of whom are elderly, all who are untrained in military tactics. It is laughable and misleading to state otherwise what can be so plainly observable.

From Digital Smoke Signals/Myron Dewy

The background story, from some water protectors I spoke to, is that this was setup to be a distraction from the actual beginning of drilling going on at night behind the barricade. Without permit to do so, having been told on November 14th by the Army Corps of Engineers to stop, DAPL is beginning to drill and had brought in parts of the drill to tunnel under the river. A witness at the Sacred Stone main camp told me that at night they have begun to hear booming and feel vibration in the ground from the other side of the hill from the construction. So, a confrontation was staged to keep everyone focused on something else. A confrontation was staged so that there is an excuse to call in more military and more law enforcement – which is exactly what was done the very next morning by Morton County. Why on a Sunday evening? It became clear to me as I tried to make calls to TV networks and government offices about what was happening that all offices were closed. Here is the story about Sophia Wilansky, an unarmed water protector who got shot in the arm with one of the many concussion grenades being shot at the people that night.

 

I saw the water cannons being aimed at the crowd of people, I saw the smoke of the mace being sprayed on the people, I saw the people crowded on the bridge and medics carrying people who were overcome out to waiting cars and trucks. I saw people yelling and crying and hurting, I saw the officers laughing as they taunted and sprayed people. I saw a video of a man who had been hit in the head with a rubber bullet. I heard form witnesses who were there how it felt to not be able to breathe from the gas and the pepper spray. I saw an elder asking the officers why they were doing these things. I heard people swearing as they were hit or sprayed with mace. It was a total disgusting use of overwhelming force on our own citizens who are protesting an unlawful corporation operating on contested Federal land without a permit. As for fires – water protectors and medics quickly made small fires so that they could immediately warm people who were sprayed with the water. The water protector I spoke with said that he was freezing and stood close to the fire to warm but his waterproof pants melted, creating even more of a problem by his skin. As the medics and protectors made these fires to warm people, law enforcement sprayed those fires out and sprayed the medics. The temperature was 21 degrees https://www.timeanddate.com/weather/usa/bismarck/historic  To prevent hypothermia, these people doused with water had to be warmed. They were far from the camp and had to be warmed right where they were. The cowardly actions of law enforcement spraying people with water on a night with temperatures below freezing, and laughing about it like it was a game is despicable. I was horrified. I was worried about people I knew were there.

More Information:

https://www.adn.com/nation-world/2016/11/21/officials-defend-use-of-water-cannons-on-protesters-in-freezing-weather/

Listen to an Interview: http://m.democracynow.org/stories/16847

Guess what. We all need water and no one is going to go away. People will continue to pray, more people are going to support and arrive and write letters, and make calls, and demand justice for every injustice done. This is the message I got as I spoke to people in the camps. People are fighting for their lives and their water, nonviolently.

 

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