'We Are Still Here': Water Protectors Remain in Prayer, Brace for Mass Arrests
Police will begin arresting all water protectors at 2pm CST
Water protectors standing against the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline are bracing for militarized police to descend on their protest camp near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' evacuation deadline of 2pm CST Wednesday looms.
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Law enforcement has already surrounded the camp, preventing even members of the press from entering to cover the coming police raid.
Chase Iron Eyes, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and civil rights advocate, said in a Facebook video that he was denied access to the Oceti Sakowin camp by "a host of law enforcement officers from a variety of jurisdictions."
Iron Eyes also reported that the police force appears highly militarized, and that he witnessed 60 vehicles poised to encroach upon the camp. A police officer from the North Dakota Highway Patrol told Reveal reporter Jenni Monetthat the Army Corps gave law enforcement the "authority" to use force.
The Morton County Sheriff's Department, which will be enforcing the evacuation order, has come under harsh criticism for its past brutal treatment of water protectors.
Despite the forces lined up against them, the water protectors—as well as U.S. military veterans who traveled to North Dakota to protect them—are remaining strong in their peaceful resistance to the pipeline, uniting for prayer ceremonies and a planned prayer march before the expected mass arrests.
"We are clearly in a historic and very spiritual time," Iron Eyes said. "Some would call it a time of prophecy."
Indigenous rights group Honor the Earth released a video of water protectors "singing one last time," hours before the evacuation deadline:
Water protectors are also ceremonially burning sacred dwellings and ritual items, which police have reportedly thrown away or destroyed in the past, Indigenous Rising Media notes. "[I]t is best to burn these scared structures instead of having them desecrated by Morton County and North Dakota law enforcement," the Indigenous outlet writes.
While the protest camp faces destruction, the Standing Rock Sioux's lawsuit against the Army Corps for approving the final easement for the pipeline is still moving through the courts. A hearing in which a federal judge will consider an injunction against the Army Corps is scheduled for February 27. The Oglala Sioux of South Dakota filed a separate suit against the Army Corps last week.
Water protectors are requesting support and prayers as the police encounter looms. "Keep your eyes on Standing Rock," wrote members of the Sacred Stone protest camp on Twitter:
— Sacred Stone Camp (@SacredStoneCamp) February 22, 2017
Independent journalists and groups, including Honor the Earth, Lakota People's Law Project, Last Real Indians, Monet, The Young Turks, and Unicorn Riot are also periodically broadcasting the protectors' last stand live on social media.