Police have now taken full control of the Oceti Sakowin Camp, following an ours-long siege today at Standing Rock. A number of Water Protectors were forced to flee en masse across the Cannonball River to escape a running advance by heavily armed police. It is unclear at this time how many Water Protectors have been arrested.
Today’s raid came on the heels of additional forced evacuations yesterday in Standing Rock. Around 150 police from several states mobilized against the Water Protectors yesterday on Highway 1806 in South Dakota and forced a large number of people to evacuate from Standing Rock, using the threat of force. Police also rushed the crowd on 1806, brutalizing at least one person, and carried out multiple “snatch and grab” arrests.
Although the order for eviction yesterday was for 2 pm, the police troops from Morton County and other states waited until 4 pm to begin their forward march in riot gear holding batons. The weather was freezing with sleet coming down. Some Water Protectors decided to light ceremonial fires to burn their belongings rather than see them defiled by police, who have previously smashed and urinated on the belongings of Protectors after raids. The skies were gray with clouds and smoke from the burning buildings and tipis. By 4 pm, most of the camp had left, believing they could be more useful for the movement if not arrested. Hugs with the 60 to 80 who chose to stay were emotional.
The Water Protectors waited at the infamous Backwater Bridge on Highway 1806. The police were marching toward them slowly.
The police stopped near the camp side of the bridge about 40 feet in front of a group of around 50 Water Protectors, including seven or eight veterans. There were at least 15 independent journalists who were told they would be arrested if they did not leave, but ABC and NBC journalists were embedded with the police and had permission to take photos and notes with no risk of arrest. One of the independent journalists, Eric Poemz, was live streaming. A man next to him spoke to the police respectfully, saying they were honorable men trying to earn a salary for their families, but that because they wore masks and no nametags, they were less honorable than they should be. Working for the pipeline put them on the wrong side of history, he said, asking, “Why don’t you be really honorable and set down your badge?” Right at that moment the police charged the Water Protectors. Poemz turned and ran, and the next moment he was down screaming in pain. “I think you broke my hand,” he yelled. “I can’t walk. My hip. You broke my hip!” The police continued to manhandle him. “We gave you plenty of time to get out of here,” one of them said. “That’s what you get for disrespecting our state for six months,” said another.
The winner will receive an 11×14 archival print of this photo of a ringed kingfisher overlooking the ancient araucaria forest in Parque Huerquehue in Chile. Ringed kingfishers require large bodies of clean water and dense forest and migrate between the US and Chile.