Indigenous protestors – also known as water protectors – currently struggling against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline were brutally assaulted over the weekend.
At least 167 people were injured as police shot rubber bullets at activists’ heads and doused them with water cannons in frigid weather, raising the specter of hypothermia.
In jarring footage, water protectors are seen stuck on a bridge, subjected to a constant barrage of water. The unarmed protesters stand opposite of a highly militarized police force, which has amped up its aggression in recent weeks. Calls have mounted from public figures – including Senator Bernie Sanders – for President Obama to use his powers to designate Standing Rock a national monument to prevent its devastation and exploitation by dirty energy interests.
Drone footage showing water cannons being used on water protectors
— Carlton Banksy (@rtyson82) November 21, 2016
The protests were originally started by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, but have since attracted the support of well over a hundred additional indigenous tribes as well as legions of environmental activists. The movement has fused civil rights and climate justice in a heartening display of pro-social good sentiment in the Trump-era.
The movement, however, is a response to a grim social climate that undervalues indigenous human rights and has permitted a science-denier access to the White House. Just recently, the shooting of an unarmed Native American later cleared of any wrong-doing failed to catch any media attention. Yet the experiences of many indigenous communities parallel those of many African-Americans, who are more likely to experience police brutality. Simply put, the rights of indigenous peoples are generally disregarded, and the Standing Rock protest is – in part – a reaffirmation of those rights.
Across the nation, dozens of affinity protests have popped up, newly invigorated by the election of the highly corrupt, mercurial, and inept Trump. With the Million Women March planned for DC following the inauguration of what will be the most highly disliked incoming president in history, we can expect more concerned citizens raising their voice against the division, hate, and proud ignorance espoused and emboldened by the Trump campaign.