NORTH DAKOTA—On Sunday, Dec. 4, over 2100 veterans plan to stand with protesters at Standing Rock. The event, ‘Veterans Standing for Standing Rock,’ will see veterans from the United States armed forces including the U.S. Army, United States Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Coast Guard, states the event’s facebook page.
The creators of the event include veteran, screenwriter and activist, Wesley Clark Jr. and retired Baltimore police officer and marine corps veteran, Michael Wood Jr., Fox News reported. In an interview with Fox News, Wood stated, “If we don’t stand up for the oppressed that’s the snowball that starts that leads to everyone else’s oppression.”
The event’s Facebook page states the protest will be peaceful and weapon-free.
“We are calling for our fellow veterans to assemble as a peaceful, unarmed militia at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation on December 4-7 and defend the water protectors from assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police force and DAPL security,” states the Facebook page.
In order to support those who will be participating in the protest, a GoFundMe page has been created. In 14 days, over $300,000 has been raised. All of the money raised will go towards providing food, transportation, and supplies.
The protests have been a month-long battle for those who are against the North Dakota pipeline project. The 1,170-mile project is being constructed by the Energy Transfer Partners company. Supporters from around the nation and various tribes who live near the area are concerned the pipeline could contaminate the water supply and harm Native American artifacts.
On Friday, Nov. 15, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued an email to Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault stating that they plan to close the Oceti Sakowin Campsite on Dec. 5 due to safety concerns. The site has been the location of past protests and acts of violence.
According to The Huffington Post, The District Commander, John W. Henderson wrote:
“This decision is necessary to protect the general public from the violent confrontations between protestors and law enforcement officials that have occurred in this area, and to prevent death, illness, or serious injury to inhabitants of encampments due to the harsh North Dakota winter conditions.”
On Nov. 20, violence broke out amongst the protests when police used water cannons and fire hoses against the protestors in freezing weather. Over 300 protesters were injured and 26 were hospitalized. According to PBS News, the American Civil Liberties Union criticized the way the Morton County Sheriff Department and other law enforcement handled the situation, calling it a “catastrophe with serious human rights implications.” According to the sheriff’s department, the reason for the use of force was because protesters were “very aggressive.”
Senator Bernie Sanders has called out to President Barack Obama to take all appropriate measures to protect protesters.