Dakota Access Pipeline Protest: Winter Is Coming
Heavy Snow Expected
With more than 100 protests planned in the upcoming days, the "Water Protectors" have upped their activity in hopes of creating increased interest in their plight. Today, in Bismarck, North Dakota, a crowd of a few hundred protestors, shut down the State Capitol in the morning and then blocked a major thoroughfare in front of the Federal Building in Downtown Bismarck. The scene was similar to recent DAPL events as sign-carrying protestors stood face to face with Kevlar-wearing law enforcement personnel adorned with assault weapons carrying large bottles of pepper spray. In today’s protest, the crowd stood quietly in place occasionally erupting in cheers when prompted by their leaders. In their hands were tools of discourse in the form of signs, professionally designed and manufactured to appear uniform with an almost branded look. Overhead were bright red wind socks adorned with "No DAPL" and "You Can't Drink Oil".
The battle for the moral high ground between the Water Protectors and the pipeline supporters continues and claims of the pipeline route passing through ancient burial grounds and sites of historical significance to the Sioux people have not been proven, leaving key elements of the protestor’s case in question. Rather than stand back and allow supporters of the pipeline to carry the day on this count, protestors have elected to create headlines by turning the tide on the non-natives who now occupy lands once claimed by the Sioux. The protest has left the reservation and entered the largest community located within 50 miles of the event.
Bismarck Protest November 14, 2016
On November 6, 2016 DAPL Protestors chose a new venue to state their case. Invading the Fairview Cemetery in Bismarck, ND, protestors attempted to draw comparisons between the pipeline going through their claimed burial grounds and the desecration of a burial ground used primarily by ancestors of the Europeans who came late to their country. To drive the point home, protestors left behind six red shovels in the cemetery after their 45 minute protest.
In addition, supporters of the DAPL Protest have chosen to vandalize public property in an effort to bring additional attention to their cause. At the WWII memorial in Washington, DC the portion of the monument dedicated to North Dakotans was spray painted with #NoDAPL. In addition, the North Dakota State Capitol was marked with motor oil poured on the exterior and sidewalk of the building and a sign was left behind stating “you can’t drink oil”.
On the fringes of today's protests were camera-carrying sympathizers’ intent on catching any confrontation in hopes of leveraging the conflict for the good of the cause. They understand the value of a violent video in rallying their crowd and garnering headlines from news outlets sympathetic to their cause. Wearing vests and t-shirts adorned with their support for those protesting, there was no intention to appear objective on whatever coverage resulted from the images they captured.
Truth remains secondary to the claims of the pipeline protestors and nothing is off limits in the quest for publicity. Those who support the protest from afar have tended to glom onto sound bites and appear to have limited interest in details. Like so many protests in contemporary times, it has little to do with truth and everything to do with creating trending videos to cast law enforcement in the role of the villain in all confrontations. In social media, the burden of truth is not an obligation, it is a nuisance and a compelling video has much more power than a well written legal brief.
The march towards a violent conclusion appears to be intensifying and the hope is that innocents will not be the victims of publicity seeking activist’s intent on gaining headlines on the backs of those killed or injured.