by Michael Allen
Police used pepper spray and fired rubber bullets at Native Americans and others who were protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock, North Dakota, Nov. 2 (video below).
The Standing Rock demonstrators were praying, grasping hands, singing and wading into Cantapeta Creek while police, dressed in riot gear, stood at the base of a hill, notes NBC News.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe recognizes the hill as a Native American burial ground.
The Young Turks (former MSNBC show, now Internet broadcast) reports that the police moved in when the protesters, who call themselves water protectors, "attempted to cross a makeshift wooden bridge they built over the river in order to pray where their ancestors are buried" on the hill.
NBC News notes there was a confrontation when "police dismantled a wooden bridge that demonstrators constructed to access the sacred site."
Jordan Chariton, a reporter for The Young Turks, filmed police using large amounts of pepper spray on the protesters, who appeared to be peaceful.
Erin Schrode told NBC News that it was a "100 percent peaceful protest," and that she was "shot in point blank range" by police with rubber bullets.
"Another water protector was also shot at twice at point-blank range, but the rubber [bullets] hit the water, and not him," Schrode added.
Some of the water protectors asked the police to move off the hill on Oct. 31, but the Morton County Sheriff's Department Public Information Officer said the officers stayed there "to prevent criminal trespass on private property."
The Sheriff's Department made news recently when it reportedly caged Native American protesters in dog kennels.
The Sheriff's Department announced in a Nov. 2 press release that it used "less-than-lethal ammunition to control the situation" when an unidentified man allegedly threw bottles at the officers, and another unidentified person allegedly charged the police.
"Officers also deployed pepper spray and tear gas to disperse the group of protesters who came across the water and camp at officers," the Sheriff's Department added.
Film director Josh Fox told NBC News: "There was absolutely no provocation of any kind. The police pepper sprayed people sitting in the water."
"I was facing the line of officers from across the river and all of a sudden, I felt as if someone swung a mallet with all their might against my lower back. It obliterated me," Schrode recalled. "I turned around and I had no idea what just happened. And there was an officer pointing his gun in my direction from a boat."
The Sheriff's Department asserted that the "protesters involved in this activity are violating numerous federal and state laws."
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe believes the pipeline could poison their drinking water from the Missouri River, and has filed a lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers for failing to consult them.
President Barack Obama told Now This on Nov. 1:
"We're monitoring this closely. And I think as a general rule, my view is that there is way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans. I think that right now the Army Corps [of Engineers] is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline. So we're going to let it play out for several more weeks, and determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that is properly attentive to the traditions of the First Americans."
Read this article on Opposing Views.