U.S. veterans to meet with tribe elders
in pipeline protest
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[December 03, 2016]
By Ernest Scheyder and Terray Sylvester
CANNON BALL, N.D. (Reuters) - U.S. military
veterans will meet with tribal leaders on Saturday as they continue to
entrench themselves in a North Dakota camp where thousands of activists
are protesting a multibillion-dollar pipeline project near a Native
Veterans Stand for Standing Rock members will meet with Standing Rock
Sioux elders to determine how the potentially 3,500 veterans arriving
over the weekend can aide protesters who have spent months demonstrating
against plans to route the Dakota Access Pipeline beneath a lake near
the tribe's reservation.
The group of veterans are also expected over the weekend to complete
building a barracks and mess hall near where they constructed a
headquarters at the Oceti Sakowin camp about 5 miles (8 km) north of the
small town of Cannon Ball.
The Native Americans and protesters say the $3.8 billion pipeline
threatens water resources and sacred sites.
Wesley Clark Jr, a writer whose father is retired U.S. Army General
Wesley Clark, met with law enforcement on Friday to tell them that 3,500
veterans may join the protest and the demonstrations would be carried
out peacefully, protest leaders said.
Tribal leaders asked the veterans, who aim to form a wall in front of
police to protect the protesters, to avoid confrontation with
authorities and not get arrested.
There have been violent confrontations near the route of the pipeline
with state and local law enforcement, who used tear gas, rubber bullets
and water hoses on the protesters, even in freezing weather.
"I felt it was our duty and very personally more of a call of duty than
I ever felt in the service to come and stand in front of the guns and
the mace and the water and the threat that they pose to these people,"
said Anthony Murtha, 29, a Navy veteran from Detroit, at the Oceti
Some 564 people have been arrested, the Morton County Sheriff's
The number of protesters in recent weeks has topped 1,000. State
officials on Monday ordered them to leave the snowy camp, which is on
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land, citing harsh weather, but on
Wednesday they said they would not enforce the order.
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Phyllis Young (C) of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe talks with
veterans who oppose the Dakota Access oil pipeline and local law
enforcement on Backwater Bridge near Cannon Ball, North Dakota,
U.S., December 2, 2016. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier spoke by phone on Friday with
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, but assistance for law
enforcement and a timeline for a resolution to the situation were
not offered, the sheriff's office said.
Lynch said in a statement that the U.S. Department of Justice has
been in communication with all sides in an effort to reduce tensions
and foster dialogue.
State officials never contemplated forcibly removing protesters, and
Dalrymple said his evacuation order stemmed mainly from concerns
about dangerously cold conditions as the temperature in Cannon Ball
is expected to fall to 4 degrees Fahrenheit (-16 Celsius) next week.
The 1,172-mile (1,885-km) pipeline project, owned by Texas-based
Energy Transfer Partners LP, is mostly complete, except for a
segment planned to run under Lake Oahe, a reservoir formed by a dam
on the Missouri River.
Protesters, who refer to themselves as "water protectors", have been
gearing up for the winter while they await the Army Corps decision
on whether to allow Energy Transfer to tunnel under the river. The
Army Corps has twice delayed that decision.
(Additional reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago, Brendan
O'Brien in Milwaukee and David Gaffen in New York; editing by Susan
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