According to the New York Times, as many as 2,000 military veterans are planning to converge at Standing Rock in North Dakota to act as “human shields” for protesters facing off with law enforcement.
Veterans for Standing Rock is intended as a non-violent intervention to defend protesters against “assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police force.”
The Times reports that the veterans’ plan comes after an announcement this Tuesday from law enforcement officials saying they will begin blocking supplies, including food, from entering the main protest camp at Standing Rock.
— RoseAnn DeMoro (@RoseAnnDeMoro) November 28, 2016
Upon hearing ND Governor Jack Dalrymple‘s evacuation plan for the camp, Veterans for Standing Rock founder Michael A. Wood Jr. wasn’t impressed.
“Yeah, good luck with that,” he said.
Mr. Wood, who served in the Marine Corps, organized the event with Wesley Clark Jr., a screenwriter, activist and son of Wesley K. Clark, the retired Army general and onetime supreme allied commander in Europe for NATO.
Mr. Wood said he had initially hoped to attract about 500 veterans; he had to stop sign-ups when they reached 2,000. He said volunteers are from diverse backgrounds: “We have every age, we have every war.”
An online fund-raiser has raised over $570,000 in pledges for the event as of Tuesday afternoon.
The authorities have used rubber bullets, pepper spray and water cannons against demonstrators, hundreds of whom have been injured, according to protest organizers. The clashes have been highly contentious, with the police and demonstrators leveling accusations of violence at each other.
To avoid getting them into “hot water,” active-duty service members are being discouraged from attending.
“Law enforcement is aware of the upcoming event planned for December 4-7.” North Dakota State Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Thomas O. Iverson said. “If the group remains lawful and refrains from blocking the roadway, there will be no issues.”
Opponents of the 1,170-mile Dakota Access Pipeline have been gathering at Oceti Sakowin camp for about 7 months. The Standing Rock Sioux and other Native American tribes fear the pipeline could pollute the Missouri River, harm sacred cultural lands, and desecrate tribal burial grounds.
Featured image via Twitter