A private security firm, guarding the highly controversial construction of a $3.8 billion oil pipeline, turned mercenary last weekend and were caught on video unleashing vicious attack dogs against a sizable crowd of peaceful protesters — including women and children. And now, the only people to be punished for the vicious attacks, are the ones who filmed it.
Saturday evening, Democracy Now! announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for host and executive producer Amy Goodman. Goodman, along with a team from the media outlet, were in North Dakota last week to cover the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The video taken by Democracy now of the horrid abuses inflicted on the protesters by private security quickly went viral. Members of the Standing Rock Sioux and at least 100 other Native American nations as well as activists and advocates peacefully chanted “water is life” while guards held dogs nearby to intimidate the crowd. Without warning, these security henchmen showered the demonstrators with pepper spray and released the dogs — at least six people were bitten, including a young child.
The warrant issued for Goodman’s arrest is for misdemeanor trespassing. Given the nature of the video and the countless other individuals in that same area who did not receive arrest warrants, the motives for the warrant become apparent — retaliation.
“This is an unacceptable violation of freedom of the press,” said Amy Goodman in a statement. “I was doing my job by covering pipeline guards unleashing dogs and pepper spray on Native American protesters.”
For months, the Standing Rock Sioux have camped in the pipeline’s proposed path, halting construction at least temporarily as Energy Transfer Partners, the firm responsible, continues to intimidate, harass, and now attack protesters attempting to protect their own land.
Although tribe spokesman Steve Sitting Bear said 30 people had been pepper-sprayed and six suffered dog bites, Morton County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Donnell Preskey claimed law enforcement had received no reports of protesters being injured, according to the Wall Street Journal.
As Claire Bernish previously pointed out, video of the moment of attack has, in fact, been difficult to obtain, since cell reception at the site frequently cuts off in what many suspect is a law enforcement attempt to cover up the company’s vicious quashing of the protest.
Immediately before video of the skirmish cuts out, a panicked protester can be heard screaming, “They’ve got trucks behind us, too!”
Sacred Stone Camp, the water protectors’ defensive encampment, posted a picture of a female security guard holding a choke-chain wearing dog to Facebook with the alarming description, “Yes, that is the blood of peaceful protestors on this dog’s mouth.”
Dogs indiscriminately bit anyone and anything in their path — including a horse — and at one point, in seeming karmic retribution, even turned on their handlers.
— Democracy Now! (@democracynow) September 4, 2016
By refusing to acknowledge the multiple documented violations and assaults by the Dakota Pipeline security forces, and, instead, going after the innocent individuals who filmed them, law enforcement in North Dakota has shown who they are beholden to — and it is not the people.
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