An alarming report says the secretive global security firm G4S — which many equate to private mercenaries for hire — admitted to providing personnel to guard construction of the eminently controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.
G4S, which recently came under fire in the United States for having employed Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, is described by the Intercept as “one of the world’s largest private security companies” and “a giant, often controversial global contracting corporation that provides mercenary forces, prison guards and security services” in over 100 countries.
G4S, in fact, has been accused of making “money from misery” by Antony Loewenstein, who authored the book “Disaster Capitalism: Making a Killing out of Catastrophe.”
In an email, G4S Communications Director Monica Lewman-Garcia told TeleSUR, “G4S Secure Solutions is providing fewer than 10 security officers, assigned to remote sites, providing limited short-term unarmed patrol services.”
However, although Lewman-Garcia stated “unarmed patrol services,” a curious job listing posted to GlassDoor and LinkedIn for G4S Secure Solutions in Mandan, North Dakota — quite near the Standing Rock Sioux water protection camps — explicitly seeks an “Armed Custom Protection Security Officer.” Further, while the position advertised in LinkedIn appears to have been filled, the GlassDoor listing has not disappeared — and was posted just over a month ago — potentially suggesting G4S requires additional armed guards to control ongoing tensions in the area.
On Saturday, private security mercenaries pepper-sprayed, maced, and unleashed vicious attack dogs against activists and Native American water protectors after construction crews deliberately desecrated a two-mile stretch of land containing a number of sites sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux. Six people were mauled by dogs — including a pregnant woman and young girl, according to people on scene — and at least 30 people were gassed by mace and pepper spray.
In court documents filed less than 24 hours before crews razed the sacred land, the tribe’s former longtime historic preservation officer, Tim Mentz — who finally surveyed the land for the first time recently when a private landowner granted access — specifically pinpointed each area of interest to the Standing Rock Sioux. Mentz and other tribal leaders suggested those documents were used by Energy Transfer Partners’ crews to bring malicious and intentional retributive action against the over 100 Native American nations and their supporters occupying the land in an attempt to halt pipeline construction.
“I do not believe the timing of this construction was an accident or coincidence,” Mentz wrote in a court filing seeking an emergency temporary restraining order against further construction activity on Sunday. “It appears that DAPL drove the bulldozers approximately 20 miles of uncleared right of way to access the precise area that we surveyed and described in my declaration” to the court.
Infuriated over the almost certain deliberate decimation of those sites, water protectors and activists attempted to block the path of construction crews — which led to the violent clash.
Lewman-Garcia claimed in the email G4S officers “were not present and not involved at the location where the incident occurred.” But considering discrepancies between her statement and the job listing for armed personnel, however, the veracity of that claim must be called into question — particularly considering the firm’s reputation for brutality and lack of ethics.
In addition to the possibly-armed G4S security mercenaries, protesters and water protectors have had to contend with armed state and federal authorities, who have set up militarized checkpoints near their camps following August’s emergency declaration and state of emergency implemented by Gov. Jack Dalrymple.
Tensions between Dakota Access Pipeline interests and opposition activists — whose camps have swelled in number amid controversy — have reached a fever pitch recently as the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux await federal Judge James E. Boasberg’s Friday decision on the legality of construction.
On Tuesday, Boasberg granted a temporary restraining order that did little to address the two tribes’ recent complaints as the recently-mapped area in question was not covered in the ruling.
Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman David Archambault II told Prairie Public Broadcasting he is disappointed with the order “because I know more of our sacred sites are going to be destroyed. … I’m okay with the fact that we know there’s not going to be any construction near the camp on the east side of Highway 1806. I’m not happy with the ruling, however, because there’s a lot of land being destroyed.”
Stephanie Tsosie, attorney for EarthJustice, who together with Jan Hasselman, represents the Standing Rock Sioux in its lawsuit, echoed that chagrin in an interview with Democracy Now!:
“It is important to remember that this land is an area that these tribes have inhabited for time immemorial, and there are sacred sites around the entire area. What this means is that construction can continue, and it can continue to desecrate these areas west of Highway 1806. And the tribe does not get an opportunity to go out and survey these areas for cultural sites.”
Besides the callous destruction of sacred sites, most pertinent to Native Americans and other residents is the intended installation of a section of pipe beneath the Missouri River, which provides drinking water to no less than 18 million people. Because Big Oil’s pipelines are notorious for spills, leaks, and other issues, Native Americans taking a stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline prefer to be called “water protectors” instead of protesters, since halting construction would protect precious water.
“Water is what we’re made of,” Drucilla Burns, a Fort Mojave Indian Tribe elder who traveled from California to North Dakota to join the thousands of others taking a stand against Big Oil’s incursion, told the Washington Post. “We’re supposed to be the protectors of the land and water. My God, they took everything away from us. And now they want to take our water too?”
In that vein, water protectors at Sacred Stone, Red Warrior, and other camps have remained peaceful unless — as in Saturday’s incident — security or law enforcement act aggressively and without justification.
Both sides have accused one another of acting illegally, with Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier accusing the water protectors of pointing lasers at circling aircraft and attacking security forces — though neither claim has yet been substantiated.
Due to the previous dearth in coverage by corporate media, online activists, water protectors, and independent media outlets have begun investigating the people and corporations backing the pipeline — with rather telling results.
Research outlet LittleSis found more than two dozen Big Banks and financial institutions — among them, Bank of America, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, TD Securities, and Citibank (which runs the books for the project) — are funding the Dakota Access Pipeline with a $3.75 billion line of credit.
Alarmingly, Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren, whose oil interest company sits at the heart of contention, was appointed to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Commission last year in an almost certain conflict of interest between conservation and Big Oil.
When officials refused to identify the security firm responsible for Saturday’s attack, a number of people employed image and records searches based on photographs and video taken at the incident to investigate for themselves.
Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman, who witnessed the violent crackdown, interviewed Jonni Joyce, “an expert in law enforcement canine handling with more than 25 years of experience.”
According to Joyce, the indiscriminate and brutal actions by the dogs on Saturday showed a lack of sufficient training of both the animals and their handlers.
“What I witnessed on the video was absolutely horrific and a chaotic scene,” Joyce told Goodman. “It appeared that the handlers were not trained properly in order to manage a dog that has been trained in some type of controlled aggression. And basically, what it looked like was a bunch of alligators at the end of leashes being put on Native Americans that were there protesting. It absolutely was an egregious use of canines.”
One handler, in particular, tentatively identified as Ohioan Ashley Nicole Welsh, has drawn massive public outrage after video showed her dog dripping blood from its nose and mouth.
Joyce noted serious issues in the way this female handler “pushed her dog into the crowd. And you can see on the video that the dog had enough sense not to go in the crowd. The dog actually backed up. And then she corrected the dog and pulled the dog into the crowd. And this is especially concerning, in reference to this application of the use of force, and it certainly provides evidence that these people were improperly trained.”
Online, as Goodman pointed out, Ohio-based Frost Kennels and owner Bob Frost have taken ‘credit’ for the vicious animals used against water protectors — a claim somewhat substantiated by Ohio license plates on security vehicles at the scene of the incident. Fortunately, though state officials have not taken action against security personnel over the attack, the fact the company was based in Ohio may indeed provide a reprieve.
“I do not know Bob Frost, and I do not know Frost Kennels. I do know that he has taken credit for this. This is of particular concern, because in the state of Ohio, guard dog services are covered and regulated through the Ohio Department of Public Safety. And in order to provide guard dog services and furnish guard dog services, you have to be licensed through the state of Ohio. At this time, searching their public database, the name Frost Kennels, the name Bob Frost, and then the name of another handler that we believe was involved out there, does not come up as being licensed through the state of Ohio. So, therefore, I’m making a complaint with the state of Ohio for them to determine whether or not Frost Kennels has the proper licensing in order to provide guard dog services.”
Past complaints against Frost Kennels included the sale of a dog with serious health issues that had additionally not received vaccinations, as reported to the Better Business Bureau — of which the company is not accredited. Another claimed Frost Kennels kept its animals “in a garage in crates with wood chips for flooring,” among other issues. Bob Frost disputed both claims, and the former has since been resolved.
As water protectors and their supporters and advocates, as well as those generally opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline, await the judge’s expected ruling tomorrow, details continue to emerge which appear to show the lengths Big Oil will go in the name of profiteering.
Calling it an “act of terrorism,” Saturday’s attack and ruination of sacred sites seemed to substantiate for many about interests backing the pipeline, as Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold C. Frazier put it,
“They do not know the meaning of humanity.”