veterans

Washington, D.C. – In a show of solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux, U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a Hawaii Democrat who served two tours of duty in the Middle East, and who continues to serve as a Major in the Army National Guard, announced that she will be joining thousands of veterans coming from across the country to protest the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) near the Standing Rock Reservation.

“If my participation in this protest helps send one message, it is this: We must protect our fragile water resources for current and future generations,” said Gabbard, who has been involved in environmental activism since her youth.

“Next weekend, the congresswoman will be joining thousands of veterans from across the country to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota who are protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through their tribal lands, with grave concerns about the contamination of their major water source,” Gabbard’s Press Secretary Emily Latimer confirmed in an email to the Observer.

Gabbard’s announcement coincides with a planned deployment of over 2,000 military veterans to Standing Rock, scheduled for December 4. The veterans have coordinated their actions with the Oceti Sakowin elders, and a GoFundMe account set up to raise money for this mass action has raised over half million dollars.

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Organizers of the mobilization describe what is taking place at Standing Rock as “assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police force.”

The group of veterans, aptly called “Veterans for Standing Rock,” is “calling for our fellow veterans to assemble as a peaceful, unarmed militia at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation” from December 4-7 to protect the protesters from the heavily militarized presence of law enforcement there.

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Many of the veterans have expressed disgust at law enforcement’s use of military hardware that they themselves operated on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq against foreign enemies and terrorists. The knowledge that these same weapons of war are now being turned on the American public has created a wave of anger throughout the veteran community.

“Everyday becomes more evident that the defenders of America must stand with the Water Protectors,” wrote Wesley Clark, the son of Gen. Wesley Clark.

Clark, who started the GoFundMe fundraiser, wrote on the fundraising website, “Let’s stop this savage injustice being committed right here at home. If not us, who? If not now, when? Are you a hero? Are you honorable? Not if you allow this the be the United States.”

According to a report in The Observer:

Gabbard rose to popularity with Bernie Sanders supporters after she spoke out as Democratic National Committee (DNC) vice chair about the lack of debates scheduled by then-chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz during the Democratic primaries. After the South Carolina Democratic primary, Gabbard formally resigned from the DNC to join Sanders as a surrogate for his campaign.

Gabbard is an Iraq War veteran and continues to serve as a major in the National Guard. She has been one of the most vocal opponents to interventionist U.S. foreign policy, which was the subject of a meeting she had with President-elect Donald.

The controversial DAPL, if completed, will transport over 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day through the conduit, which is scheduled to cross under the Missouri River – something the Standing Rock Sioux believe endangers their water source.

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Sunoco Logistics, the pipeline operator, has had the most crude oil spills in the United States, while construction of the pipeline has already desecrated numerous sacred burial sites of the Sioux.

“I’m participating in the Dakota Access Pipeline protest because of the threat this project poses to water resources in four states serving millions of people,” says congresswoman Gabbard. “Whether it’s the threat to essential water sources in this region, the lead contamination in Flint, Michigan, or the threat posed to a major Hawaii aquifer by the Red Hill fuel leak, each example underscores the vital importance of protecting our water resources.”

The video below is from Chris Turley, who was badly wounded while serving in Afghanistan (doctors told him he’d never walk normally again). He just walked 250 miles to be at Standing Rock. Here he is at the bridge where the people were attacked last week with water cannons, grenades, etc., to give you an insight into the law enforcement militarization of this peaceful protest. This video gives people an idea about what it is like out there on the front lines.

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Jay Syrmopoulos is a geopolitical analyst, freethinker, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs and holds a BA in International Relations. Jay's writing has been featured on both mainstream and independent media - and has been viewed tens of millions of times. You can follow him on Twitter @SirMetropolis and on Facebook at SirMetropolis.