Dream Defenders
Dream Defenders stand in solidarity with the Water Protectors at Standing Rock

 

The Dream Defenders stand with the Water Protectors in Standing Rock fighting against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Water is life. This movement is our movement. 

The DAPL would carry more than 400,000 barrels of crude oil a day from western North Dakota across South Dakota and Iowa to connect with an existing pipeline in Illinois. It is a 1,100-mile pipeline, estimated to cost $3.8 billion, and is about half-way complete. The water protectors who are protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline are engaged in a critical fight against big oil for our collective human right to access clean water. 

Police, military and private security hired by oil companies have been attacking protestors with rubber bullets, dogs, pepper spray, and LRAD sonic weapons. These companies, like G4S, are the same companies that make money off of criminalizing Black people in Florida and across the country and people throughout the global south, in Palestine, South Africa and Brazil.

The DAPL was re-routed through Standing Rock because Bismarck’s predominately-white residents feared it could poison their drinking water. The Sioux are literally being forced to accept ecological risks that the North Dakota’s white resident’s refused.

Remember that the police and military occupation is a symptom of something else.  They are "protecting" an investment.  We must group our critique of police and military presence confronting our indigenous family with a critique of the capitalist system that values money over human beings and nature.

It’s also important to look at the financial institutions that are bankrolling the DAPL: Bank of America, HSBC, UBS, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase and more. 

The following is a reflection from Stuart Flores and Tasha Hadley, Dream Defenders from the Bay Area Dream Defenders squadd and is reposted from their blog here.  

Who would have thought that a morning of collective prayer would have led to an armed ambush by law enforcement on the day of September 28th, 2016 at one of the many construction sites of the Dakota Access Pipeline (D.A.P.L).

Stuart Flores and Tasha Hadley gets apprehended by several police after prayer at one of the D.A.P.L construction sites.

Stuart and I arrived in Cannon Ball, North Dakota in the late afternoon of Tuesday, September 27th as press representing a community organization called, Dream Defenders of Tampa Bay based in Florida. After hearing about some of the many victories and challenges the Standing Rock community had faced—along with the mainstream media blackout—we wanted to capture and document accurate events that took place on the campgrounds and front lines.

Stuart, Tasha, and Chris- Bay Area Dream Defenders (B.A.D.D)  in solidarity with Standing Rock.

Upon our first day of arrival, we were greeted warmly into the community of about 2,000+ members from different nations, backgrounds, and cultures all gathered for the purpose to protect and defend our Mother. We were informed of the camps and groups that served the community such as the kitchens, donation stations, ceremony circles, medic and herbal tents, schools, and Direct Actions. I was amazed and humbled to witness the cooperative practices within the community. It was not long before we establish our place participating in the Direct Actions team.

The next day there was an announcement during morning assembly to gather people who wanted to visit one of the constructions sites. We were asked to fill out a, “Jail Form” with our emergency contact information and to speak with the camp’s attorney to understand our rights as a peaceful protester. The risk of possible arrest or harassment was as component that was treated with a great deal of seriousness as we were asked to write the cellphone number of the camp’s attorney somewhere on our bodies. Nonetheless, the unbreakable spirit of the people did not falter as everyone collected in their vehicles and horse wagons of 20 or more vessels to head to the construction site.

My partner and I traveled in a van with 8 other protectors that included 3 minors between the ages 7-16. We were one of many vehicles that were packed with at least 5 or more people. The caravans flowed like a connected wave as we proceeded through the hilly dirt roads of the St. Anthony route. An overwhelming sense of happiness surged throughout my body as I held tightly to the hand of my significant other. The warmth of the afternoon sun filled the clear blue skies as Mother guided us with signs telling us that we were in the right direction. I replayed in my thoughts over and over the reason why we are here; ‘We are all here to protect our water; we are here to serve our mother, we are here to preserve our future.’ Mni Wiconi.

We arrived at the selected site to view the construction that was in progress. The turquoise blue pipelines laid dormant on the dug up earth that stretched miles into the distance. The construction site did not have active workers at the time, however, there were three police SUV’s and about 5 officers standing guard near the pipes. There was a 30-foot division between the protectors and the officers as we gathered on the other side of the construction. No visible signs or notices of private own land were present at the time we collected on the grassy plains for a group prayer.

Police helicopters and media airplanes surveillance in the distance as we proceeded to pray. The collection of singing, chanting, and the sweet smell of sage filled the air as the elders spoke of the laws and treaties that the D.A.P.L construction was violating. The prayer lasted for about 1½ hour. After the prayer came to its conclusion the group was ready to head back to camp.

As the people were loading back into their cars, a sudden crowd of armed enforcement appeared, creating barricades at the entrance and exit of the constructions site. I couldn’t believe the heavy use of military application that was recruited to address un-armed civilians. There was a airplane that flew above us spraying unknown chemicals. Four different counties deputies enforcement arrived with automatic guns and tanks.

Yes, tanks—on un-armed civilians.
The armed enforcement began to zone in on the people as they attempted to load into their vehicles and leave the premises. Stuart and I were in the van when we saw one of the organizers from the prayer circle get apprehended by several officers. Immediately, we both jumped out of the van and began recording the action that was taking place. That’s when we were met by a group of armed enforcement that drew their loaded weapons at us. The intensity of the situation heighted as protectors stood bravely yelling, “We are peaceful protesters!” All we could do was keep the cameras rolling.

An officer made a hand signal beckoning the police to start making their arrest. Vehicles were stopped at gunpoint as they were leaving to step out their cars. The driver of our van, who was 16 years old---was halted at gunpoint as well. No one was spared of the excessive force of the police. Stuart and myself were part of the 21 people who were arrested on Wednesday, September 28th, 2016.

The protectors who were arrested were placed in vans that filled up to about 8 to 9 people. We were cuffed with plastic zip ties and our charges taped on our backs. Stuart’s zip ties had been secured too tightly and became a challenge to adjust by the 5 officers who tried to replace it. The zip ties caused him to loose feeling in his left hand. Once the officers gathered their arrest, we were deported to Morton County Jail to be booked in.

21 Water Protectors were arrested September 28th, 2016 and booked at Morton County Jail, Mandan ND

With the help and support of the Camp’s legal team, and the advice of the attorneys, all 21 protectors were granted bail for their release. No one stayed longer than one night at the jail on Thursday, September 29th. Upon our release, we were greeted with an immense amount of love from our fellow brother and sister protectors. It was another victory despite the attempts of the forces at large.

After our release, Stuart and I spent the remaining of our week helping out in other areas of the camps. It was a great shift in opportunity to apply ourselves the best way possible. We enjoyed the dances and songs that told stories of the ancient wisdom of the ancestors, and the bight crafted regalia that adorned the different tribes and nations. We even witnessed the de-assembling of a whole buffalo that was donated to the main camp. Both men and women spent hours into the morning providing fresh meat for the community.

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Our first week visit at Standing Rock, North Dakota has most certainly changed our lives for the better. The experience has allowed our body, spirit and mind to engage in a purpose bigger than us. The unions at Standing Rock believes in the duty to protect and serve the rights of life and water without contamination. This right is simple, yet consumed in complexity. Stuart and I will continue this fight as we return back to Standing Rock in December to meet our court date. The big oil companies expect the numbers of protectors to decrease during winter—But we will only grow stronger!

Spread the word and support this fight! We must preserve life.

MNI WICONI

See you in December!

- Stuart & Tasha

We need to arrive back to North Dakota for the winter by December 20th to meet our court date. However, we need help getting there. If you would like to assist us in our mission to continue this fight, you can donate to our Go Fund me Account: widget.png