While election madness reached full tilt in recent days, opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline experienced a quiet victory — Norway’s largest bank, DNB, will consider pulling its hefty investment in the project if concerns from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are not addressed.
DNB, EcoWatch reports, has reportedly loaned around $350 million to Energy Transfer Partners for the construction of the pipeline — fully 10 percent of the total cost — but is worried the rights of Native Americans are being trampled in the process.
“DNB looks with worry at how the situation around the pipeline in North Dakota has developed,” the financier said in a statement cited by Reuters. “The bank will therefore take initiative and use its position to bring about a more constructive process to find a solution to the conflict.
“If these initiatives do not give appeasing answers and results, DNB will consider its further involvement in the financing of the project.”
Apprehension over solicitous violence police have employed against the Standing Rock Sioux water protectors and their supporters drove the bank to review its investment in the enormously controversial pipeline. Multiple clashes between law enforcement and peaceful opposition finally began leading international headlines after American corporate media largely ignored escalating tensions.
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe members — and Indigenous peoples from First Nations around the planet, as well as activists and supporters — have occupied several camps along the Missouri River near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, since spring in an attempt to obstruct further construction of Dakota Access.
In bold response, ETP hired private security mercenaries untrained in such matters, who unleashed vicious dogs indiscriminately against a crowd of unarmed but angry water protectors whose sole ‘crime’ constituted trespassing to perform a ceremonial prayer. At least six people were mauled by the dogs in the chaos, and several journalists and activists faced lengthy jail terms.
Since that time, following the mercenaries’ departure, obscenely over-militarized police with tanks better suited for a battlefield of war from at least five states were deployed to patrol on behalf of ETP — and have been no more forgiving than the private firm.
Water protectors, activists, and journalists have been pepper-sprayed, maced, beaten, shot with bean bag projectiles and rubber bullets, tasered, blasted by LRAD and sound cannons, and have been strip-searched, detained in dog kennels, had their arms marked with numbers — and generally been treated contemptibly by every law enforcement agency involved.
Police violence and tactics have been so deplorable, representatives from United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues have been amassing testimony from witnesses and victims about excessive force, unlawful arrests, and mistreatment in jail, EcoWatch reports.
Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) deployed human rights observers to monitor the situation for the same reasons.
“Our observers are here to ensure that everyone’s human rights are protected […]
“People here just want to stand up for the rights of Indigenous people and protect their natural resources. These people should not be treated like the enemy,” asserted Eric Ferrero, director of communications for AIUSA. “Police must keep the peace using minimal force appropriate to the situation. Confronting men, women, and children while outfitted in gear more suited for the battlefield is a disproportionate response.”
Beyond appalling police interactions, ETP seemed to intentionally destroy a large swath of sacred land Standing Rock Sioux historians had only recently been able to assess for cultural value.
Unsurprisingly, tepid requests by President Obama and several federal officials for ETP to halt construction until a tribal lawsuit, currently languishing in court, and further permit reviews conclude, have been brazenly ignored. To wit, further construction of Dakota Access as opposition continues its fight have brought the pipeline to the banks of the Missouri River’s Lake Oahe reservoir — the exact point of contention as water protectors worry a leak or spill would contaminate tribal drinking water and that of around 18 million people downstream.
Using the chaos and distraction of Election Day, ETP announced it will move forward with drilling to begin installation of pipeline beneath Lake Oahe in just two weeks, intimating it would do so with or without appropriate permits — in a flagrant defiance requests to stop construction, potentially exacerbating further violence by police against angered water protectors.
DNB apparently views these acts as unacceptable, and if the situation worsens — as it likely will should ETP follow through on its Election Day declaration — it appears the bank stands ready to revoke its financial support.
If so, the bold move could inspire other major investors — fearful of ruining their reputations by supporting human rights abuses — to follow suit, particularly if the public applies pressure.
In the meantime, water protectors from the Standing Rock Sioux and their supporters face a particularly bitter North Dakota winter on the open plains. Viewing their prayerful movement as protection of water for future generations, none of those camped in the pipeline’s path have plans of leaving until the “black snake” is stopped in its tracks.