‘They will kill if necessary’: Historian scolds crackdown of DAPL protest (VIDEO)
“Native Americans have no rights that [a] corporation is bound to observe,” said Churchill, a former University of Colorado Boulder professor of ethnic studies, paraphrasing a pre-Civil War ruling by the Supreme Court on African-American rights. “It is that attitude and Indians getting in a way of profitability and convenience of those in charge of the United States, will be liquidated one way or another.”
The crackdown on protesters in North Dakota, he implied, are links of one chain of oppression by the US government, which had been mistreating Native Americans “since day one.”
On Sunday, police officers in Morton County used water cannon and rubber bullets on unarmed pipeline protesters, who have been occupying the federally-owned land since August.
“They are really serious about this and they will kill people if necessary. They would prefer not to, because it’s bad press, but they will continue to ratchet this up,” Churchill said. “It is not just police that is involved this. You have this mercenary forces, in this case its is TigerSwan, which is a spin of Blackwater, that is ran by a former Delta Force Cornell, and uses special operatives.”
Over 160 people have been injured in standoffs with law enforcement over the weekend. However, Churchill said, it is “very difficult to separate out” police activities from those of “this mercenary group.”
“The appearance is to some analysts that the mercenary group, the private group, the highly-militarized expertise that’s available and that’s essentially commanding the police,” he added.
Dr. Rohini Haar of Physicians for Human Rights also told RT that such methods of crowd control, like rubber bullets and water cannon, can be no less dangerous than live ammunition.
“Death or no death is a matter of how they are used than what specific weapon,” Haar said. “When rubber bullets are used inappropriately, when water cannons are used inappropriately they are going to cause death.”
Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and environmental activists have been protesting the construction of the $3.8 billion, 1,200-mile pipeline mainly out of concern that it would pollute nearby water sources, running under a Missouri River reservoir, and destroy tribal sacred sites.
“They are talking about potentially contaminating the water supply and a destitute reservation, running it under the land that was already illegally taken from these people, which was the best farmland,” Churchill said, stressing that the Dallas-based company behind the project “could have run DAPL round Missouri River.”
Last week, Kelcy Warren, the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, said there was “not another way” for the pipeline and that they were going to “build at that location.”
Churchill believes one of the routes could have run “north of Bismarck” but that option was out of consideration because there could have been a risk of contaminating water supply for the state’s capital with a “predominantly white population.”
“So, they moved it down to just a mile north of Standing Rock because you’ve got expendable population in the minds of the policy makers of the United States,” he said.
Here, Churchill also sees a historical pattern, stemming back to when Native Americans’ land, mineral wealth and water were taken “for the benefit of the settler population,” while they were left destitute and consigned to “areas that are not considered habitable” by the general population.
“All for profit,” Churchill says. “If you extracted the treaty territories, just removed treaty territories, from the territorial corpus of the Unites States, given the mineral disposition, the United States economy would collapse tomorrow.”