News this morning is that one of the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters has trespassed on the construction site and chained himself to a piece of construction machinery. This from one of the protest Facebook pages:
Previously protesters have trespassed and vandalized construction equipment, but this is the first time they’ve gone this far. According to other social media postings, law enforcement is on the scene:
— Mikeal Béland (@mikealbeland) August 31, 2016
As I write this there is a Facebook live stream of the situation right here.
UPDATE: Here’s a new live stream:
Meanwhile, the protesters are definitely digging in.
Last night a SAB reader up at the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation sent along an email which was sent out to faculty and staff at the Turtle Mountain Community College.
In it an administrative assistant at the college provides a list of items being collected for the protesters. You can see the whole email below, but the list is pretty interesting for what it tells us about where this protest is heading:
“I though you might be interested in seeing some of the items requested, especially propane (not only the hypocrisy, but also the fact that they seem to be prepping for cold weather, i.e., a long protest into the fall/winter), as well as the building and school supplies, also suggesting they intend on being there a long time,” the SAB reader who forwarded me the email wrote.
That is interesting. It’s no secret that the protesters are planning to stay for a long time. There have been plenty of comments to the media from protesters indicating that they plan to stay even if a federal court ruling on an injunction blocking the pipeline construction doesn’t go their way.
But the list illustrates some possible areas of conflict with state and federal authorities.
For one, a big chunk of the protest is taking place on federal land. Not only has that activity not been permitted by the federal government – they’re literally trespassing at this point – but I’m pretty sure there is going to be a problem if protesters start using construction supplies to erect more permanent structures there. Particularly structures that will probably be used to house things like heaters. That’s not only a risk to the land itself but to the protesters themselves.
For another, child welfare authorities might not be happy with children being educated in the middle of a protest. Particularly one that has been, at times, as unruly and unlawful as this one. Perhaps the school supplies are for kids who are already home schooled? Maybe, but if they’re not there could be a conflict between protesters and authorities over whether or not those kids should be in school.
Meanwhile, it’s not as though the protesters are lacking in financial support. A GoFundMe page set up to support the protests has collected nearly a quarter of a million dollars since April, while a second legal defense fund on the site FundRazr has collected over $113,000.
As the funds flow in, and the protesters put down roots, the potential for ugliness here beyond what we’ve seen already gets more and more real.
Here’s the full email:
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