Water protectors who have been protesting against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota participated in three different nonviolent protests Sunday.
Independent news site Unicorn Riot was live at the scene when a group of several dozen water protectors drove into Bismarck, N.D., on Sunday morning and held a demonstration at Fairview Cemetery. Fairview was chosen because it is the oldest cemetery in the city, and water protectors wanted to highlight the desecration of ancient burial sites that has taken place during construction of the pipeline.
According to Unicorn Riot, water protectors spoke about how they came in prayer and, although they had shovels with them, they would not dig up North Dakota’s ancestors.
Although Bismarck Police and Burleigh County sheriff’s deputies were present, they did not approach the demonstrators, and an hour after the demonstration began, the water protectors left without incident.
At the same time as the Fairview Cemetery demonstration, a larger group of water protectors participated in a “Forgiveness Walk and Ceremony” at the Morton County Law Enforcement Center in Mandan, N.D. The goal of the walk was “to relieve themselves of burdens of bitterness and anger they may feel due to traumatic experiences with the police.”
The third demonstration in North Dakota took place on land near the Oceti Sakowin camp, where another group of water protectors crossed Cantapeta Creek to set up camp on what is now known as Turtle Island.
The group of water protectors canoed across the creek and then upturned their canoes to create a barricade against police attack. Barricades were also erected on the east and west ends of the small beach from driftwood. Nearly 200 people were gathered on the beachhead as SWAT-team members launched tear gas canisters at the protesters. Water protectors wearing protective gear disabled the canisters by covering them in mud.
A man claiming to be speaking on behalf of Standing Rock Tribal Council Chairman Dave Archambault II told the water protectors to disperse because tribal negotiations with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had led to a 30-day halt on construction of the pipeline, but even as he said this, DAPL excavators could be seen digging across the river.
Unicorn Riot reports that there is currently no evidence that a 30-day work stoppage has been or will be ordered by any government agency, and an Army Corps spokesperson told Mother Jones that the 30-day pause was “only a proposal.”
Read more at Unicorn Riot.