Militarized police in North Dakota are now firing water cannons, concussion grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets on water protectors trapped on a bridge near Cannon Ball.
Following a brief confrontation with police, in which military vehicles were reportedly set alight and ultimately cleared from the roadway by water protectors, heavily armed police in riot gear kettled water protectors on a bridge and began brutalizing those trapped.
According to reports from the scene, police began firing tear gas canisters in an attempt to clear people from the bridge near the Oceti Sakowin encampment — and when water protectors kicked those canisters back at police to avoid the crippling gas, several small fires ignited near the side of the road.
Witnesses said water protectors — not law enforcement — then proceeded to put out the flames; but police from multiple departments took the opportunity to crack down on the activists, in what appeared to be retaliation.
Trapped on the bridge on both sides by this veritable army of police, water protectors, including children, stood their ground on the bridge — the only options available to inhale the noxious tear gas or trample one another to escape.
Following the deployment of tear gas, the situation rapidly escalated — thanks to officers having far too many tools at their disposal.
After the volley of tear gas, officers inexcusably began shooting water cannons at water protectors kettled on the bridge — in temperatures hovering around 26 degrees Fahrenheit — making hypothermia and frostbite an immediate danger.
Witnesses on the scene say police are employing tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets, mace, LRAD sound cannons, and other weapons, as they moved to encircle the crowd trapped on the bridge — and at the mercy of merciless police.
Police began this assault on the captive group amid a total media blackout — a single Facebook Live video filmed by Kevin Gilbertt is the only live feed of events unfolding, as the already spotty internet availability has also been cut by law enforcement repeatedly during similar clashes.
Gilbertt filmed from atop a nearby hill — using the only spot with reliable internet in the area.
As Gilbertt repeatedly noted, it was the water protectors who snuffed several fires which erupted after police fired tear gas cannons. While the activists worked quickly to put out the fires, police ignored their efforts and proceeded to inundate them in below freezing temperatures.
According to Gilbertt and other witnesses, those trapped on the bridge had no means to escape the barrage of rubber bullets, water, LRAD sound cannons, tear gas, and mace. Concerned individuals not originally part of the standoff attempted to deliver blankets to the doused victims of sporadic water cannon fire — but they, too, were caught in the enclosed space.
In live video, the sound of rubber bullets being shot occasionally punctuate the obviously chaotic and desperate situation. According to Gilbertt, water protectors cannot leave the bridge without trampling each other — and thus have been forced to inhale the noxious fumes.
According to a witness Gilbertt interviewed under the condition of anonymity, water protectors arrived earlier in the day to clear the burned out law enforcement vehicles from the roadway — but police ignored the act and began escalating violence.
As these absurdly over-equipped police began brutalizing the unarmed group trapped on the bridge, chaos erupted — but water protectors stood their ground rather than endangering one another.
Shortly after tests of the LRAD sound cannon could be heard, Gilbertt’s live stream began pixelating and fading in and out — and then abruptly and unexpectedly ended a short time later, while an online audience of nearly 50,000 people looked on.
This situation is rapidly unfolding, and this article will be updated as more pertinent information becomes available.