By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor.
In a shameful and terrible scene reminiscent of police attacks against civil rights advocates and union busting of the 1920’s, the Dakota Access pipeline company dispatched its “goon squad” which unleashed attack dogs and pepper spray, injuring several Native American protesters. What began as a peaceful protest deteriorated into a new and shameful moment in today’s America, symbolized quite fittingly with images of Native Americans’ blood in the teeth of Corporate America’s attack dogs.
The latest outrage against Native Americans reportedly occurred on Saturday when the Dakota Access Pipeline Company attacked protesters opposed to construction of the $3.8 billion dollar pipeline linking North Dakota’s Bakken Oilfield to Illinois.
Democracy Now! provided on the ground footage of the confrontation that injured several and shows to many a telling picture of how Dakota Access (a wholly owned subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners) approaches those who object to its corporate interests.
The demonstration began with a gathering of perhaps a hundred or more demonstrators advocating their opposition to the pipeline, standing at a road adjacent to a line of bulldozers clearing earth for future construction. Many of those in attendance expressed their surprise at how suddenly construction began, considering the pending legal challenges facing the project. The firm hired security guards and even went so far as to have a helicopter circling the vicinity.
A few men in hard hats began talking to some who crossed over but, as shown in the below video, one of the construction workers threw a demonstrator to the ground–sparking a confrontation.
Later, the bulldozers pulled back but the company’s “security team” called in reinforcements armed with attack dogs and pepper spray to intimidate and push back the demonstrators. This led to many being bitten and sprayed. One person reported the dogs were so out of control, that even some of the construction workers were bitten.
In the end, the Native American demonstrators succeeded in stopping the construction efforts but paid a price with their own blood. That’s apparently how Dakota Access, LLC seems in my view seems an acceptable way of punishing anyone seeking to protect water quality and livelihoods who stands in their way.
What’s next Dakota Access, rubber bullets and water cannon?
The very use of attack dogs against demonstrators shocks many, returning us shamefully to the worst days of the civil rights movement in the United States. Although then it was local governments letting slip the attack dogs, today in this case it is corporations.
Congress should take note of this outrage and forestall any further use of attack dogs against demonstrators through legislation, that is obvious. But in the present I believe executive action by the presidency is necessary to halt operations on this pipeline to protect the public from goon squads such as this. In fact, I suspect there is good cause to investigate and possibly charge Dakota Access for crimes committed against these demonstrators. The civil case is obvious. The company not only allegedly injured these people, but recklessly exposed them to blood-borne pathogens by allowing their dogs to bite multiple individuals.
The opposition to this pipeline among Native Americans and others resulted in what is described to be the largest Native American convergence in more than a century, as reported by TheRealNews.com.
By Darren Smith
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