Late last year a group of veterans organized by Wes Clark Jr. and Michael Wood traveled to North Dakota to assist in the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
It was an absolute disaster with Clark and other organizers fleeing the harsh weather leaving the veterans they invited to the protest stuck in the middle of a brutal prairie blizzard with little in the way of food or shelter.
There also arose serious questions from some participants in the protest about the use of the funds raised to support the effort.
But now the group is back, telling the media that they’re raising funds for the protest camp again:
A U.S. military veterans group announced new efforts to support the Standing Rock Native American tribe and protesters who oppose completion of the Dakota Access pipeline, just days after President Donald Trump took action to move the project forward.
Those efforts include developing the capability to deploy thousands of veteran volunteers to Standing Rock, potentially putting the White House in a politically difficult position. They come as tensions have escalated between protesters and law officers in recent weeks.
Veterans Stand launched a fundraising drive on GoFundMe last week to support a network of protesters camped out near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. It seeks to raise $500,000 to buy supplies for campers, provide car rides for volunteers and create a rapid response ability. It has raised about $19,000 in two days.
You can see the GoFundMe page, which was started January 27, right here. It’s clear that the intent is to raise funds for on-going protests. But it’s not clear that Veterans Stand, which lists Wood as a member of its leadership team, coordinated the effort with Standing Rock.
The tribe has asked protesters to clean up their camps and leave while their fight against the pipeline continues in the federal courts.
On their GoFundMe page Veterans Stand say they’re raising funds to “meet the ongoing needs at the camp” including “gear,” but according to a Bismarck Tribune report today law enforcement and protest organizers have been working together to dismantle the protest camp and clear out trash and other debris.
As for gear, there is so much of it laying around the protest organizers are looking to donate it:
Britt said he and his team are also sorting items, including sleeping bags and winter clothing, so they can be donated to those in need in Bismarck and on other Native American reservations. Compost piles of food scraps will be moved to nearby farms to finish composting, he said.
So is this Veterans Stand group actually raising funds for Standing Rock? Or are they just using the notoriety of the pipeline clash to make bank?
Meanwhile, one of the veteran volunteers tells me Wes Clark Jr. and other leaders still haven’t made things right after last year’s failed effort.
Last month Bonnie Hoppa, a veteran from Maryland, told me during an interview that many of the veterans she helped get to North Dakota felt “like they were taken for a ride.”
She’s skeptical of this latest endeavor, too.
“They shouldn’t be doing that,” she told me this afternoon of this new fundraising effort. “As far as I have seen, and been told by my folks in the camp, the camp is shutting down. There is ZERO reason that VSSR should be fundraising for anything regarding the camp. They still haven’t appropriately finished out the last event.”
Hoppa said she is still gathering information on the last protest, but said the veterans who participated only started receiving reimbursements “about a week ago.”