(EnviroNews World News) — An official petition was filed on the White House’s website on October 29, 2016, concerning the most recent events in the now saga-like Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) struggle.
A couple days before the petition was filed, a historic protest went down on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, wherein Native American “protectors” held their ground against a barrage of abuses from a large multi-agency law enforcement coalition that came wielding tear gas, tasers, bean bag guns, pepper spray, guns, tanks, helicopters and even sonic LRAD weaponry. When all was said and done, 141 had been arrested, with many others injured by the actions of police.
The appeal to POTUS titled, “Intervene to Protect Civilians at Standing Rock, and Launch Federal Civil Rights Investigation of Law Enforcement in ND,” was launched October 29, 2016, and has accrued nearly 15,000 signatures of the required 100,000 thus far. The White House promises a response to petitions waged on its site that reach a 100,000 signature threshold.
The appeal was filed by Erik Molvar, newly appointed Executive Director of the environmental non-profit Western Watersheds. Molvar, who’s been out to Standing Rock twice, told EnviroNews World News it was a personal petition created on his own time, and not affiliated with Western Watersheds. But Molvar had no problem putting the State of North Dakota on blast for what he called “thuggish behavior” by law enforcement.
“I saw the horrendous videos of police spraying water protectors with deluges of pepper spray, taking them, and photos of victims who were shot in the face with rubber bullets, an extremely dangerous practice. I was horrified, because these kinds of abuses are what you would expect in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, but in America we are supposed to be protected by Constitutional rights and the rule of law from this kind of thuggish behavior from our law enforcement officers,” Molvar said to EnviroNews World News in an email.
“These abuses, together with [a] press statement from the Morton County Sheriff’s Department that clearly indicated that Dakota Access Pipeline security contractors were not being investigated for widely-broadcasted assaults and use of dogs against water protectors, indicated that equal justice under the law does not apply in rural North Dakota and federal oversight and intervention are needed to prevent civil rights abuses,” Molvar concluded.
The petition’s language is short and straight to the point, and reads:
In North Dakota, state and local law enforcement agents are violating the civil rights of indigenous peoples and their allies who have gathered in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. The clear bias and failure to apply equal justice under the law is on full display in the press releases of the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, which has turned a blind eye to its duty to investigate crimes such as assault against water protectors perpetrated by security personnel hired by the Dakota Access Pipeline. State and local law enforcement has violated the constitutional rights of journalists by targeting them for arrest to obstruct news coverage. The administration should open a federal civil rights investigation and intervene to protect indigenous civilians at Standing Rock.
On October 28, the Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Dave Archambault II, appeared on Democracy Now! with host Amy Goodman, and said virtually the same thing when he called for an immediate DOJ investigation of the past week’s events.
I approached the Department of Justice a couple days ago because I knew that North Dakota State was planning something. They deployed… the North Dakota Department of Human Services set up a pre-hospital tent near the camp — and that brought concern to me. That was telling me, sending me signals, that this was going to get out of hand. So, I asked the Department of Justice to step in, and asked the State not to come forward with the raid. I also asked them to talk to the company, Dakota Access Pipeline, and stop construction — cease construction — this is getting too out of hand.
And so, what they ended up coming back with was: The state is ready to negotiate. The state is willing to sit down and talk to you. But the company was not willing to stop construction.
They want to force their hand on everybody. And it’s pitting the protestors, “protectors,” demonstrators, up against law enforcement. And law enforcement is starting to use severe aggression — severe force on our members — on all those who support us, who are there with us, and it’s unlawful.
Now, we are asking the Department of Justice to hold the State accountable. They knew this was going to happen. They knew it was coming forward — so did the company. They just keep pushing forward and they box us into the corner, and they expect us to let it be. And right now, what we’re trying to do is protect water — that’s the whole thing — just protect water. Why is that such a hard thing for the State to understand? Why is it such a hard thing for the company to understand? We need to help the world realize what is going on here.
If you are interested in keeping up with or signing this petition, it can be located on the White House website by following this link: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/intervene-protect-civilians-standing-rock-and-launch-federal-civil-rights-investigation-law-enforcement-nd
Intervene to Protect Civilians at Standing Rock, and Launch Federal Civil Rights Investigation of Law Enforcement in ND | We the People: Your Voice in Our Government
In North Dakota, state and local law enforcement agents are violating the civil rights of indigenous peoples and their allies who have gathered in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
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FILM AND ARTICLE CREDITS
- Emerson Urry - Journalist, Author