Published October 5, 2016
MANDAN, NORTH DAKOTA – Two newly reviewed videos casts doubt on on police justification for brandishing weapons at anti-Dakota Access Pipeline protestors at a prayer event resulting in 21 arrests.
Anti-DAPL protestors called Water Protectors were holding a prayer event on September 28 at the end of dead end county road near Mandan, North Dakota. Police responded to the event with with two armored police cars, an LRAD, automatic weapons, shot guns, and dozens of officers from several agencies.
During the interaction, police officers pointed guns at the Water Protectors. In a press release, the Sheriff’s Office of Mandan County explained the reason for the officer pointing his gun as a horse charged the officer and was an “imminent threat” to the police.
The first video shows the Water Protectors yell “GUN” because the officers have pointed their weapons and put their hands up. Some of the crowd screams, others run away. As a group of men and women move forward through the crowd with their hands up and out and stand in front of the children and the elderly.
Only after the police put their gun up, the crowd runs away, and the protectors on foot move forward do the horses enter the picture.
The second video shows the speed of the horses as well as their location. The horses walked briskly to the front, behind the guard Water Protectors. A horse charging the officers who brandished their weapons would have had to trample the line Water Protectors standing between the officers’ guns and the vulnerable population they were guarding.
Water Defenders are protesting the creation of an oil pipeline which will travel under the Missouri River and over the Ogallala Aquifer. The Missouri River is the primary source of water for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Ogallala Aquifer provides 30 percent of the fresh water used for agricultural irrigation in the United States.
In recent weeks, police have made over 90 arrests of Water Protectors.