By Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media, excerpts from Unicorn Riot Media (see photo gallery below)
They came by the hundreds, supporters marching from the four directions, East, represented by yellow garb, West, black, North, red & South, white. They came to the Colorado State Capitol in Downtown Denver Thursday evening rallying and standing in solidarity with the resistance movement in Standing Rock, North Dakota. They kept coming and coming and it soon grew into the thousands in one of the most massive demonstrations to be staged outside the Capitol in years.
Thousands of people from across the U.S, and around world have joined the effort to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Residents state that construction has already desecrated large areas of sacred burial grounds and threatens the areas water and ecology.
According to Unicorn Riot Media North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple announced at a September 8th press conference he was ordering National Guard units to bolster security forces around the massive Dakota Access Pipeline protest site south of Bismarck. At this stage state authorities claimed that activated military personnel would relieve law enforcement officers.
By Thursday evening Unicorn Riot reporters encountered Guard personnel already active on Highway 1806, about nine miles south of Mandan.
At Thursday’s press conference, leaders assured the press that these concrete barriers will remain on Highway 1806 near the Missouri River, and the National Guard personnel will be armed.
At first, Major General Al Dohrmann, the adjutant general, or commander, of North Dakota’s National Guard, described existing roadblocks as “checkpoints” then caught himself and described them as “information points” which will supposedly permit free passage in the area along ND Highway 1806. He also reluctantly confirmed that the military personnel at these points would be armed.
Unicorn Riot has compiled a multi-state rundown of Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) activity, an important endangered species oversight on the original construction permit materials, and market analysis of the troubled Bakken oil industry along with more information on how DAPL is financed.
While many think that construction on DAPL has halted because of the ongoing encampment in Standing Rock, it continues in other locations along the route (Iowa, Illinois, North and South Dakota). Energy Transfer Partners LP has completed a huge percentage of the pipeline, with its expected November start date approaching.
While no crude oil has yet reached the interior of DAPL, conflicts about environment and energy continue to arise throughout the region. Linda Black Elk warned in a post shared by the Sacred Stone Camp that despite a limited injunction on Tuesday, Sept 6th from Washington DC federal district judge James Boasberg, only a tiny portion of pipeline construction is impeded by federal government authority right now.
The encampments protecting the Missouri River on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation have grown into the thousands. In August, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmed that the Dakota Access Pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners LP has yet to provide a written easement for the pipeline to be built. On August 29th, Amnesty International sent a letter to the Governor of North Dakota, as well as the top ranking sheriff and state patrolman urging them to “remove the roadblock” that is erected on Highway 6.
An elder speaking during a rally outside of a law firm for the Dakota Access Pipeline spoke about the roadblock and called it a tactic to reduce the flow of capital to the casino.
The existence of an officially listed endangered species, a small butterfly called the Poweshiek Skipperling (Oarisma poweshiek), with federally designated Critical Habitat areas in North Dakota’s McKenzie County, has been flagged by activists as possibly relevant to challenging the pipeline permit.
Nine other endangered species present in McKenzie County are referenced in the US Army Corps of Engineers documents, but not the Poweshiek Skipperling.
According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, two ‘units’ of Critical Habitat lie near the Missouri River in McKenzie County. Along the entire pipeline route, residents fear erosion and runoff problems (including many Iowa farmers), but there is no mitigation mentioned in official documents for the butterfly’s sensitive, federally protected areas in McKenzie County.
Besides bulldozing areas near protected species’ enclaves, private capital has brought with it private agents of violence to impose its will. Controversial private security forces involved with violently forcing aside pipeline opponents include 10 Code LLC, based in nearby Bismarck, ND. The shocking attack dogs unleashed on Indigenous water protectors including a child and pregnant woman on Sept. 3rd were provided by Frost Kennels of Ohio.
Photos by Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media