Protesters looking to block the Dakota Access Pipeline have insisted, despite violent clashes with security guards and dozens of arrests for things like vandalism and trespass, that their movement is engaged only in peaceful prayer. The protesters also say that weapons aren’t allowed in their camps.
Yet images collected by the State of North Dakota from social media and other sources show at least some of the protesters wielding weapons, though it’s not clear that all of these pictures were taken at the protest camps. Still they clearly show people involved in the protest movement.
I had asked for this information after law enforcement press releases repeatedly stated that protesters had been spotted with weapons.
Cecily Fong, public information officer for the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, sent me “just a smattering” of the images they’ve collected. “The takeaway from this is that while the majority of the protesters are not carrying weapons, some are,” she said.
In one instance an armed protester even claims on Facebook to have intimidated U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials (click for a larger view):
UPDATE: The man in the post below now claims he didn’t chase Army Corps personnel. He says the post was just a joke.
Here are some more of the collected images. Obviously these people have a 2nd amendment right to keep and bear arms. What’s problematic is the claims from the protesters themselves that their people a) aren’t armed and b) that weapons aren’t allowed in the camps. With tensions already running high around the pipeline construction, and with protesters repeatedly engaging in physical confrontations with pipeline security, the presence of weapons becomes a serious issue.
The 2nd amendment doesn’t protect the use of firearms to threaten or intimidate people engaged in lawful industry.
This photo taken outside of the Morton County Law Enforcement Center during a recent protest there shows a group of protesters sitting in the back of a pickup with what appears to be a riot helmet. Which, while not a weapon, perhaps indicates an intent for physical altercations:
This sort of stuff is hurtful to the cause of the Standing Rock Sioux and the #NoDAPL protesters. They know any whiff of violence or other untoward activities from their people is going to lose them a lot of ground in the PR battle over this pipeline. That’s why they’re working so hard to cast themselves as entirely peaceful, though many (including a federal judge) disagree with that claim.
Meanwhile, five more protesters were arrested yesterday, with law enforcement investigating claims of another assault on a pipeline security worker and reports that the pipeline workers themselves have been harassed and chased. Full press release from the Morton County Sheriff’s Department is below.
There have been 74 total arrests of protesters as of yesterday afternoon.