In response to accusations that TigerSwan, a private military contractor, purposefully set law enforcement vehicles on fire in order to blame opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline, I have decided to release new video from the night of the fires. Followers of my journalism are likely aware that I made 3 trips to Standing Rock, North Dakota in August, October, and December 2016. During my October trip I witnessed the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and supporting private contractors use LRAD sound cannons, tear gas, batons, tasers, and “less than lethal” ammunition rounds against the opponents of Energy Transfer Partner’s DAPL.
On October 27, police pushed protesters back, crushing encampments, and forcing the resistance to the other side of the Backwater bridge. I described the night in my October report for Mint Press News:
In stark contrast to the water protectors’ many actions of peaceful prayer and ceremony, the atmosphere at the bridge the night of Oct. 27 was more reminiscent of an outdoor rave. The protesters on the bridge set fire to an SUV, and threw rocks and other objects at a row of armored vehicles operated by law enforcement. This small faction of non-peaceful protesters and officers briefly tossed smoke bombs back and forth.
Officers eventually lit two smoke bombs on the north side of the bridge before parking two armored vehicles at the exit to the bridge, preventing water protectors and protestors from evacuating in that direction. All law enforcement vehicles were gone within a matter of minutes, and protesters climbed aboard the armored vehicles before setting fire to them.
When several water protectors came to the bridge, they told those setting the fires and instigating violence that this isn’t what they want for the movement.
Saying prayer had failed, the small group of non-peaceful protesters said they were now fighting “by any means necessary.”
The fires they set burned throughout the night, as neither law enforcement nor fire department personnel ever arrived at the scene to extinguish the flames.
Watch provocateurs start fires At Standing Rock:
In the days following the vehicle fires the local authorities and media predictably placed the blame on the water protectors. As I mentioned in the above video, I was immediately suspicious of why the police would leave their vehicles on the bridge knowing that another vehicle had already been set on fire. My questions were recently answered when Kourtni Dockter, 22, of Bismarck, told HPR1 that she had evidence private contractors infiltrated the Sacred Stone and Oceti Sakowin camps, and even set vehicles on fire.
Dockter is also the former girlfriend of Kyle Thompson, the Thompson-Gray LLC security employee who was disarmed by activists of a AR-15 on October 27, 2016 while reportedly driving his pickup truck at high speeds toward the Oceti Sakowin camps.
Starting early November 2016, Dockter said she worked with Leighton Security Services, and “never left his [Thompson] side after that.” She would frequently meet at the Mandan Yard where the security firms, TigerSwan Inc., Leighton Security Services, LLC, established in 2011 in Honey Grove, Texas, and 10 Code Security, established in 2010 in Bismarck, frequently met with pipeline executives and law enforcement.
“TigerSwan sent people out at night to light equipment on fire,” Dockter said. “John Porter was sent to set equipment on fire overnight. He did it solo, he had backup, had some drone coverage, but they set their own equipment on fire.”
Porter was the chief security officer for Energy Transfer Partners, according to documents leaked to media outlet The Intercept.
Activist Post previously reported that The Intercept obtained the more than 100 internal documents via a leak from a TigerSwan contractor. TigerSwan is a private contractor with origins as a U.S. military and State Department client in the global War on Terror. A look at the documents and the communications of TigerSwan employees show their true attitude towards pipeline opponents.
The documents are dated from September 2016 and May 2017. They reveal that TigerSwan believes they have found a “proven method of defeating pipeline insurgencies” via “aggressive intelligence preparation of the battlefield and active coordination between intelligence and security elements.” This acknowledgment shows that local police and former military elements are confidently prepared to take on any future uprisings.
The documents outline TigerSwan’s “multifaceted” operation involving “sweeping and invasive surveillance of protesters.” The leaked documents also highlight TigerSwan’s efforts to paint the water protectors in a negative light by portraying them as “unpredictable” and “menacing.” Daily reports from TigerSwan also expose what many onlookers have suspected: ETP and local police were heavily engaged in aerial surveillance, radio eavesdropping, infiltration of camps and activist circles.
The people setting the fires the night of October 27 were largely dressed in black from head to toe, a tactic sometimes known as black bloc. Although the black bloc tactic has been used as a legitimate way for protesters to shield their identities from law enforcement, it has also been exploited by law enforcement. Police masquerading as black bloc activists have been exposed at the 2001 G8 Summit in Genoa, Italy, and at protests in 2007 in Quebec, and police posed as activists to infiltrate the Occupy movement. Law enforcement isn’t the only institution going undercover to infiltrate activist groups. Corporate entities also have a history of attempting to spy on peaceful, law-abiding activists. A 2013 report by the Center for Corporate Policy found that a large number of corporations are hiring former law enforcement, CIA, NSA, FBI, and military employees to act as spies.
As I wrote in October,
Considering what is known about corporate agitation, it is possible that the provocateurs were hired by Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline, the banks financing the pipeline, or, really, any company that benefits from the pipeline in any way. Ultimately, though, whether the agitators were police, corporate lackeys, or activists practicing a failed strategy, their actions do not represent the whole of the water protector movement and should not be used to discredit or delegitimize it.
This work by Activist Post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.
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