American law enforcement attacked Indigenous protesters in South Dakota on Friday, arresting over a dozen activists who had tried to prevent Donald Trump’s grand salute to American fascism at Mount Rushmore from going down as planned.
A few hours before the President issued dog whistle after white supremacist dog whistle at his fireworks display, railing against what he called “a merciless campaign to wipe out our history,” per CNN, dozens of Lakota activists along with other Indigenous people and their allies blocked the highway that leads to the Black Hills monument. They held their ground for nearly three hours, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports.
“It was a beautiful moment of Lakota and other Indigenous people standing to defend their treaty rights [and] their original homelands, the sacred Black Hills, known as Pahá Sápa to the Lakota people,” Sarah Sunshine Manning, the Director of Communications for the NDN Collective who is of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes, said in an MSNBC interview aired on Saturday.
The peaceful protesters, who reportedly ranged in age from children to senior citizens, were met with violence from area law enforcement as well as the National Guard. Authorities wearing riot gear and gas masks fired close-range smoke shells at the demonstrators and pepper-sprayed some of the assembled, the Argus Leader says.
Fifteen protesters were arrested by night’s end, Manning said on MSNBC, though Unicorn Riot reports that the number of arrestees is greater than 20. One of the individuals arrested at Friday night’s protest was NDN Collective President and CEO Nick Tilsen of the Oglala Lakota Nation. He is OK, Manning told MSNBC, though he will remain in custody until Monday.
“Today has been a proud day to be Lakota,” Tilsen told the Argus Leader before his arrest. “We shut down Mount Rushmore. We put this place in lockdown for three hours, and we did it in a good way. We got this power from our ancestors.”