A group of veterans will head to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota next week to serve as “human shields” for the water protectors who have been on the ground protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline for months.
Veterans Stand for Standing Rock set a goal of getting 2,000 veterans to stand with the Sioux nation against the pipeline; it had to close the list when more than 2,100 veterans volunteered to help. According to the Facebook event, the group will be on the ground Dec. 4-7, coinciding with a request from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to have the water protectors vacate their camp in the path of the pipeline’s construction.
As previously reported on The Root, resistance to the $3.8 billion pipeline has been strong from the beginning. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe argues that pipeline construction is desecrating sacred ancestral lands and that the pipeline itself endangers the Sioux’s major water suppliers: Lake Oahe and the Missouri River. Demonstrations in North Dakota have been going on for months and have resulted in a construction halt in the area immediately surrounding Lake Oahe. Earlier this month, the company constructing the pipeline said that it would move ahead with plans to drill under Lake Oahe.
On Friday the Army Corps told the water protectors that they needed to vacate the camp by Dec. 5. North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple subsequently issued an executive order calling for the mandatory evacuation of the camp, citing concerns over the incoming inclement weather. He called for a halt of all services to the camp area and warned that those who remained in the area or came back to it would be subject to legal penalty.
The water protectors have said that they will not leave the camp, and the veterans have agreed to stand with them.
The veteran effort was organized by Michael A. Wood Jr., a veteran of the Marine Corps, and Wesley Clark Jr., the screenwriter son of retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark, the New York Times reports.
As of Tuesday evening, a GoFundMe page set up for the veterans’ effort had raised over $637,000 for food, transportation and supplies for “the brave patriots” who will stand with the veterans and water protectors at Standing Rock.
A statement on the GoFundMe page reads: “We’ll be standing alongside peaceful water protectors, who’ve endured violent attacks from the private security funded by DAPL and more brutality and arrests at the hands of militarized police and DAPL security. We have full support of the Sioux tribe elders and will be cooperating with them every step of the way.”
Lt. Thomas O. Iverson, a spokesman for the North Dakota State Highway Patrol, said in an email Monday: “Law enforcement is aware of the upcoming event planned for December 4-7. If the group remains lawful and refrains from blocking the roadway, there will be no issues.”
Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II said in an email, “Everyone that comes knows our intent—to remain in peace and prayer.”