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12/04/2016 / By Vicki Batts
The Dakota Access Pipeline has been a topic of immense scrutiny for several months now. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s fight to protect their sacred lands, and the water supply, has been extensively covered by the independent media, and the pitfalls of oil pipeline construction continue to be outlined. From the destruction of waterways to the potential threat to the health of humans, wildlife and the environment, it is clear that this pipeline construction is rife with controversy.
Mistreatment of the Standing Rock water protectors has been a primary facet of constructing the Dakota Acess Pipeline (DAPL). Police brutality, in particular, has become almost commonplace. Towards the end of November, it was reported that police began firing water cannons at hundreds of protestors, in the midst of freezing temperatures. A spokeswoman from the sheriff’s department, Donna Hushka confirmed that the water was used as “crowd control” against the protestors — who had apparantly started multiple fires around the barricade. Jade Begay, a spokesperson for the Indigenous Environmental Network said that the activists had lit two bonfires to keep warm, and claims that the other fires were caused by weapons used by law enforcement. Some have said that tear gas and sound weaponry were also deployed and used against the water protectors.
Reports have indicated that protestors have literally been caged like animals, struck by rubber bullets and some have even been maimed by the use of grenades. To put it simply, dozens upon dozens of water protectors have been injured or hospitalized bcause they are standing up for what they believe in.
To make matters worse, in the last few days there have been reports that unidentified aircrafts have been seen flying over the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s encampment. There is a growing fear among the activists that they are actually being sprayed with chemicals by crop dusters late at night, flying above with their lights off. In a Youtube video, one activist describes what she has seen and heard:
“We have had aircraft flying over our camp for several days . . . [and] they mostly come at night and have their lights off … they are using this space illegally … Last night … there was an aircraft flying over camp from approximately 1:40am until about 2:20am this morning. [They are] spraying what we believe to be chemical agents down on top of us.”
While the spraying of chemicals on water protectors has yet to actually be confirmed, it would not be that surprising. After all, the government has done it before. Just a few decades ago, the poor people of St. Louis were mercilessly used as guinea pigs by the Army during the height of the Cold War. Neighborhoods were sprayed with an array of chemicals, as part of some secret, sordid testing by the military. While the Army has only admitted to using blowers to spray chemicals from the rooftops, at least one person recalls planes. Mary Helen Brindell recalls low-flying green Army planes spraying a powder on the neighborhood, while she was outside playing with her friends. She says she went home, washed the powder off of her face and arms, and went back out to play. Since then, Brindell has battled four different types of cancer — breast, thyroid, skin and uterine cancer.
“I feel betrayed,” said Brindell. “We pointed our fingers during the Holocaust, and we do something like this?”
One cannot help but share the same sentiment towards what is going on now, with the DAPL and the treatment of the water protectors. Is the government spraying them with some sort of toxic chemicals too? It certainly isn’t something they wouldn’t do — even though they have no right to do so.
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