Water Protectors Take a Stand

Image Credit: Democracy Now
By Virginia Riddle

Washington, DC Oct. 14: Indigenous water protectors started protests against the continued construction of Line 3 through a sit-in at the Interior Department in Washington, D.C. The protests were sparked by the Line 3 pipeline being built through numerous existing Indigenous territories.

Joyce Braun, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, with the Indigenous Environmental Network, explained that this display is in direct response to the broken campaign promises of President Joe Biden. Braun continued to say, “He promised that he would honor our treaties. He promised that he would have consultations. He promised that he would, he would actually listen to us and that has not happened.”

Another individual asked for by name in this demonstration was Deb Haaland, the current head of the Department of the Interior, and the first Indigenous person to hold the position in its history. She was called upon by Indigenous leaders chanting, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send Deb Haaland over!” along with, “Stop Line 3!”. It was later revealed that Haaland was out of town at the time.

During the sit-in for Haaland, 600 arrests were made from among the crowd.

Water protector Annie Baker recounts the arrests and the violence from the Department of Homeland Security by saying, “We filed in, locked arms in a circle to occupy space (in the lobby) in hopes that we could speak with Deb (Haaland). From there, we were met with the violence of the police, who mostly sought out Indigenous elders and Indigenous women to arrest them first. And they arrested media very violently. I mean, like body slammed, ripping cameras off like slamming their bodies and tripping them so that their legs were, they weren’t able to stand on their own legs. And pulling people’s arms as far up behind their bodies as they could so that people couldn’t, had no movement and looked really painful.”

On top of this violence, there were reports from the crowd of individuals having fingers broken throughout the ordeal, others being beaten with batons while simply holding each other, as well as individuals being pinned down, tased, or stomped on. The acts of harm came primarily from the officers, while the Indigenous protestors remained mostly non-violent, even being arrested, and taken away without the need for handcuffs.

It is this brutality that led Jennifer Falcon, Nakoda, Lakota and Dakota, with Indigenous Rising Media, to express, “I don’t trust the United States. They’ve always broken promises to us,” certainly with countless others in agreement.

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