In late August 2016, I noticed one of my friends posting multiple daily Facebook updates about the Dakota Access Pipeline protest which was gearing up in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. The DAPL builders defaulted to the role of villain in her narrative. Feeling frustrated with the viciously defensive myopia and censorship, I began to research and eventually wrote an article that presented a debunking of two anti-DAPL lies.
Illusion vs. Reality
I was baffled as to how my friend qualified my accounts from locals as propaganda, and her targeted messaging from activist groups as factual.The protesters can count on public sympathy. People are drawn to the idea of civil disobedience for great causes, and this is a solid impulse. The US has a long history of accomplishing great social good this way. Idealism and sacrifice for a grand cause is a powerful storyline.
As for the big corporation building the pipeline, it cannot count on media or public support. Their very existence raises suspicions among a public that is weary of crony deals and powerful elites running roughshod over the rights of others.
There’s a problem with applying that narrative to this case: namely, it does not apply. The real story is a contest between a peaceful commercial venture that is respectful of property rights and stands ready to massively upgrade the energy infrastructures and bring new prosperity vs. a coalition of interest groups that have no skin in this game but have made protesting a way of life.
The Permissive Escalation of Lawlessness
When Amy Goodman filmed herself breaking into a construction site on private land, she captured Native American trespassers walking in formation beating security dogs with sticks, resulting in one animal being knocked off its feet and its snout bloodied. The way it was reported, the peaceful protesters were attacked. The perpetrators were portrayed as static and passive when in fact they were active and violent. Secondly, a photo that was circulated in newspapers all over the country in 2012 of a child mauled by a loose dog in Texas was used to bolster the false rhetoric that the DAPL security guards were going after protesters with K9s.
Now, just two months later, the civil unrest surrounding this particular oil pipeline project is escalating to dangerous levels as the protesters out on “actions” do damage to infrastructure and harm themselves in the process. The destruction has grown from ripping a wire fence apart to break into the construction site resulting in scrapes blamed on a dog, to setting trucks on fire on a bridge rendering the bridge structurally unsound and unusable. The violence has heightened from the use of sticks and flag poles to guns, Molotov Cocktails, and Improvised Explosive Devices made of propane cylinders. The lies continue as NoDAPL reports that a woman who lost her arm to an explosive device was injured by police throwing concussion grenades. It appears she may have actually been the victim of her group’s own home-made bomb. The matter is under FBI investigation.
As for the claim of water cannons being fired at people? Partly true. In a defensive tactic to protect the community and rioters themselves, law enforcement disclosed that fire hoses were used to back up protesters that were 400 strong and pushing through the unsafe bridge burned and blockaded by protesters.
Officers had to use fire hoses to put out fires set by rioters. Many pictures and videos found online, including highly edited Standing Rock protest site photos that cropped out the blazing fire in the background, show protesters atop piles of burned rubble dancing in front of the water stream. As my friend in Bismarck, ND put it, “It’s long, it’s complicated, it’s icky, and we’re tired of it, but thank God winter is coming and fire hoses are handy. You get 300 rioters rush a group of 20 cops, what are they going to do to fight back?”
Obama Sparked It and Stands Back to Watch It Burn
In a letter to President Obama, Congressman Kevin Cramer urges the president to stop stonewalling aid to the community in distress. The only federal aid to terrorized locals in the matter has finally materialized in the Army Corps of Engineers taking a wishy-washy stance. In a released statement, ACOE is proposing a deadline of December 5 2016 for the protesters to remove themselves from a rancher’s leased land and onto an Indian reservation, or citations will be issued. In response, the resistance is calling for a day of targeting and action on December 1.
Most people don’t know what to believe but are moved by the barrage of professionally edited campaign videos.It is fair to state that most people don’t know what to believe but are moved by the barrage of professionally composed and edited campaign videos with catchy and beautiful music and dramatic imagery such as “The Whole World Is Watching, Pray with Standing Rock.” The public’s interest is piqued by exotic-sounding locations like “Sacred Stone Camp,” “Red Warrior Camp,” and the stories of the “Black Snake Prophecy.”
With thousands of people occupying the front lines, there are also those who support them from afar. Some are spontaneous grassroots groups, but some big money has also been circulating the NoDAPL movement. Some folks have stated they would like nothing more than to see the DAPL be the next Keystone. It’s harder to make direct correlations between those entities and the boots on the ground; the protesters, however, are more obvious.
Essentially, there are four types of protesters.
The Earnest One: The movement did begin with Native Americans, some of whom have admitted that the movement is carried out by the people themselves because, in some cases, their administration has agreed to the project without their consultation. It is certainly not the case that the developers did not consult the tribes – it is well documented that 55 tribes were invited to 389 meetings.
In the case of Standing Rock Sioux Chairman, Dave Archambault, who failed to show up seven times, it may be a case of buyer’s remorse, back peddling and playing catch-up due to complacency during the discovery process, or willful obstruction to change the criteria for a more profitable outcome.
He has proved completely derelict in identifying sacred sites for the planners. It seems like a large leap that internal tribal strife between the people and their representatives would result in President Obama’s unethical interference with a pipeline deemed legal via both legislative and judicial means. However, it turns out that Dave’s sister worked for Obama until May of this year. Perhaps Dave, pictured here next to Michelle Obama, has called in a personal favor.
The Activism Tourists: The second type of protester is at minimum middle class, typically white, urban, and single, seeking adventure, purpose, and spiritual invigoration. I called it months ago when I said these rebels without a cause were turning it into a Burning Man party. Now the complaints to that effect are coming out:
“Just wanna note some white people – just showed up to Standing Rock –