Sioux protesters ‘attacked’ by security dogs, pepper-sprayed at Dakota pipeline site (VIDEO)
Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe were met with violence from security guards and their canines when they gathered to protest the pipeline on Saturday, spokesperson Steve Sitting Bear said, as cited by AP.
He said that at least six people were bitten by the dogs, including a young child. At least 30 people were pepper-sprayed.
Independent news program Democracy Now filmed the demonstration, with footage showing protesters going through a wire fence and approaching construction workers. One worker can be seen throwing an activist to the ground.
The demonstrators then began marching over dirt mounds created by bulldozers at the site, while chanting, “We're not leaving!”
One guard can be seen with pepper spray in his hand, while an activist says, “This man just maced me in the face.”
Another protester said that a guard set a dog on him, and pointed to his injured arm. The dog is shown with blood on its nose and mouth.
In response, one demonstrator can be heard loudly screaming, “Get your f**king dogs out of here!”
The security guards eventually left the site in a caravan of pick-up trucks.
However, Morton County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Donnell Preskey said authorities received no reports of protesters being injured, but that four private security guards and two guard dogs were injured after being approached by several hundred demonstrators. One of the security officers was taken to the hospital, and the dogs were taken to a veterinary clinic.
Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said in a statement that "individuals crossed onto private property and accosted private security officers with wooden posts and flag poles."
"Any suggestion that today's event was a peaceful protest is false," he said.
Saturday’s event was the latest flare-up in the protest against the four-state Dakota Access Pipeline, which was launched by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe after tribal leaders alleged that the project would destroy several Native American cultural sites and burial grounds, and claimed it would taint the water supply.
“Water is life... without water, we all wouldn't be here. These plants wouldn't be here, there'd be no oxygen, we'd all die without it. I wish they'd open their eyes and have a heart to realize, you know, if this happens, we're not going to be the only ones to suffer. They're going to suffer too,” one protester told Democracy Now.
More than 3,000 Native Americans have camped at the site in protest since April.
Last week, environmental groups petitioned President Barack Obama to deny permits for construction of the pipeline, and to revoke the standing permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. They said the pipeline could prove to be an “existential threat to the tribe’s culture and way of life.”
A federal judge will rule before September 9 whether construction can be halted on the 1,172 mile-long pipeline, which would pass through Iowa, Illinois, North Dakota, and South Dakota, and cross underneath the Missouri River.
Among the tribe's supporters is former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who said last month that the pipeline must be stopped, regardless of the court's decision.
“As a nation, our job is to break our addiction to fossil fuels, not increase our dependence on oil. I join with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and the many tribal nations fighting this dangerous pipeline,” he wrote in a statement.