On Friday, the United States Army Corps of Engineers threatened Dakota Access Pipeline protestors with arrest should they fail to vacate their camps by December 5, citing public safety concerns as their motivation.
Protestors from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and across the country have used this site for months to denounce and resist the planned construction of a $3.7 billion, 1,172-mile pipeline that they argue would destroy the reservation’s main water supply and certain sacred lands.
President-elect Trump (second worst combination of words in the English language) currently owns stock in Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, and in Phillips 66, which owns a quarter of Dakota Access.
Col. John Henderson wrote in a letter to Standing Rock Tribe leaders on Friday, “This decision is necessary to protect the general public from the violent confrontation between protestors and law enforcement officials that have occurred in this area, and to prevent death, illness, or serious injury to inhabitants of encampments due to the harsh North Dakota winter conditions.”
The letter, provided by the tribe, according to the Associated Press, clarifies that no members of the public, including protestors, will be allowed on lands north of the Cannonball River after the December 5 deadline.
Of course, a much more foolproof way to prevent the public from bodily harm would be for cops to stop assaulting protestors with rubber bullets, tear gas, and water cannons. On Monday, nearly 300 people were treated from injuries sustained at the hands of police officers, the New York Times reports.
In a further, dystopian turn of events, the letter from the Army reportedly assured tribe leaders that a “free speech zone” would be established south of the river. Note that, Constitution-wise, this “zone”, as authorities are calling it, extends to all of America.
In response, Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II called bullshit on the Army’s free-speech-eviction edict:
“Our Tribe is deeply disappointed in this decision by the United States, but our resolve to protect our water is stronger than ever. The best way to protect people during the winter, and reduce the risk of conflict between water protectors and militarized police, is to deny the easement for the Oahe crossing, and deny it now.”