Water protectors battling the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline once again faced down police in riot gear, tear gas, and arrests on Monday as Indigenous activists attempted to hold a peaceful prayer walk at the pipeline drilling site alongside the Missouri River near Cannon Ball, North Dakota.
Observers were swift to call attention to the police crackdown:
While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last month denied an easement necessary for drilling under the Missouri River, the company behind the pipeline is looking to resume the project once President-elect Donald Trump takes office.
The Republican-dominated North Dakota legislature is also pushing legislation that would make it legal to run over protestors with cars, among other anti-protest measures.
Still, despite the odds, harsh winter weather, and growing tension, Indigenous water protectors and allies are continuing to maintain a presence near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation, to protect the Missouri River’s water.
In video footage taken at the scene Monday afternoon, water protectors can be seen peacefully chanting and singing in front of a line of riot police holding batons and other weapons:
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And in footage filmed later in the evening, clouds of tear gas waft over the water protectors, and the sound of something being shot can be heard as the activists hold strong and continue their peaceful stand into the night:
At least three water protectors were arrested, Reuters reports. Participants in the action also claimed on social media that the police were firing rubber bullets, and alleged that one person was struck by a police snowmobile and taken in an ambulance from the scene:
“On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, ND law enforcement shot at and tear gassed people praying and expressing their 1st amendment rights,” observed Dakota/Lakota Sioux writer Ruth Hopkins on Twitter.
And despite widespread condemnation of such aggressive tactics, the police appear to be ramping up their presence. The Indigenous Environmental Network’s Dallas Goldtooth posted photos on Facebook Tuesday of “an AN/TWQ-1 Avenger vehicle,” a surface-to-air missile system, overlooking the protest camp.