We reported earlier this month on the arrest of 22 water protectors who were held overnight in the Aitkin County jail. They claimed COVID-19 protection were inadequate: Some jailers were not wearing masks or wearing them below their noses; women were held in overcrowded conditions.
The Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) is the state licensing body for county jails. Healing Minnesota Stories emailed the DOC, sharing the post with the water protectors’ stories. We asked if Aitkin County followed proper procedures.
The Department of Corrections — which does not have a great track record on COVID-19 prevention — responded today, saying not only that the “jail followed COVID-19 precautions” but also that the department “doesn’t have any violations against any jails due to COVID-19” since the pandemic began.
To the water protectors who tried to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), the fact that law enforcement and security firms coordinated efforts to undermine the camps is old news. For those less familiar, the news site The Intercept is providing new details on the behind-the-scenes surveillance and public relations operations by the government and private security.
The Intercept received leaked documents from a contractor who worked with TigerSwan, a private security firm hired by Energy Transfer Partners to coordinate DAPL security. The Intercept just published its second story in a three-part series.
TigerSwan is largely made up of special operations military veterans, (which tells you a lot about the approach Energy Transfer Partners wanted to take in the conflict). TigerSwan “was formed during the war in Iraq and incorporated its counterinsurgency tactics into its effort to suppress an indigenous-led movement centered around protection of water,” The Interept story said.
The story raises serious questions about law enforcement’s impartiality and the “Surveillance-Industrial Complex.” Continue reading →
Leaked documents paint a disturbing picture about how a private security firm used anti-terrorism tactics against the water protectors who opposed the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), according to a story in the news site “The Intercept.”
The private firm coordinated with local, state, and federal law enforcement to undermine the protest, the story said. “The documents also provide extensive evidence of aerial surveillance and radio eavesdropping, as well as infiltration of camps and activist circles.”
This news comes as DAPL is now fully operational, Standing Rock Chairman David Archambeau is found not guilty of protest-related crimes, and complaints are being investigated against Energy Transfer Partners for failing to follow the rules during DAPL’s construction.
A shadowy international mercenary and security firm known as TigerSwan targeted the movement opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline with military-style counterterrorism measures, collaborating closely with police in at least five states, according to internal documents obtained by The Intercept. The documents provide the first detailed picture of how TigerSwan, which originated as a U.S. military and State Department contractor helping to execute the global war on terror, worked at the behest of its client Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, to respond to the indigenous-led movement that sought to stop the project.
Internal TigerSwan communications describe the [water protectors’] movement as “an ideologically driven insurgency with a strong religious component” and compare the anti-pipeline water protectors to jihadist fighters.
The article is based on more than 100 internal documents leaked by a TigerSwan contractor, as well as more than 1,000 documents obtained through public records requests, the story said. Documents obtained “also suggest that TigerSwan attempted a counterinformation campaign by creating and distributing content critical of the protests on social media.”
Remember the security worker who posed as a water protector at the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protest, the guy with AR-15 assault rifle?
It turns out that Kyle Thompson, 30, was just arrested for domestic violence, carrying a concealed weapon, and possession of marijuana and methamphetamine paraphernalia, according to an article in the Bismarck Tribune. Thompson did three tours of duty in Afghanistan for the Army, and said he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). His sister had been killed recently in a car accident.
He received what could be called a compassionate sentence. Being compassionate is a good thing. At the same time, it is fair to ask how Thompson’s case compares to some of those involving Native American water protectors and their allies.
At best, the story makes a technical point. At worst, the headline casts DAPL opponents in an unfair light, claiming they are “misstating” the facts — that is, misrepresenting them or even lying. The story certainly misses the larger political picture. Continue reading →
Standing Rock is becoming a national model for opposing oil pipelines. Read a story about a oil pipeline controversy in other parts of the country and it will reference DAPL or Standing Rock.
For example, here is a Jan. 4 story from Folio Weekly, a Florida-based magazine, with the headline: Florida’s Own STANDING ROCK. It concerns the Sabal Trail Transmission, a gas pipeline that crosses Alabama, Georgia and Florida. According to the story:
The $3.2 billion project crosses 13 counties in Florida and more than 700 bodies of water, including the Withlacoochee, Suwannee, and Santa Fe rivers. The EPA approved the project despite its concerns about the pipeline’s path through 177 acres of conservation areas, including the Green Swamp and Rainbow Springs in Florida. …
Similar to Standing Rock, people in Florida worry about the potential leaks and their impact on drinking water. Pipeline opponents have adopted the Standing Rock term “water protectors” and created a Water Is Life Camp near the Santa Fe River.
Wisconsin’s Chippewa Tribe also is fighting a pipeline battle, according to a Jan. 6 MPR story:
The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s tribal council voted Wednesday to refuse to renew several easement rights of way for Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline that expired in 2013….
Hundreds of water protectors were arrested trying to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, and now that their court dates are coming up they don’t have adequate legal defense, according to an article in Think Progress. The article, published Dec. 15, starts out:
Trials for Dakota Access Pipeline protesters begin next week, but there aren’t enough attorneys to take their cases. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department lists 264 people who have no lawyer at all, and the 265 people who have been assigned public defense attorneys aren’t receiving adequate counsel.
This is the first in a series of blogs exploring how religious communities who are Standing with Standing Rock are reviewing their investments for ties to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Will their investments change?
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has taken a formal position supporting the Standing Rock Nation and its opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). It also is flexing its financial muscle, looking at how its investments are supporting DAPL and asking tough questions of Enbridge, a major DAPL investor.
There is a growing effort to get individuals and institutions to divest from companies tied to DAPL. Divesting is one option outside of the political arena where people can make a difference and vote their values with their money.
The ELCA is a large institutional investor, socking away money for retirement plans for its many employees. It’s the kind of big investor that can influence a corporation. As of the third quarter of 2016, the ELCA had $7.8 billion managed by Portico Benefit Services. (Of that, $6.4 billion was in retirement plans).
The ELCA’s investments include Enbridge Inc. “whose U.S. vehicle, Enbridge Energy Partners, owns a 27.5% interest in the Dakota Access Pipeline project,” according to Rev. Jeff Thiemann, Portico’s President and CEO. According to a statement Rev. Thiemann made to Healing Minnesota Stories on Dec. 8:
Portico just this week, along with several other investors, submitted a shareholder resolution to Enbridge Inc. [regarding DAPL] … This resolution calls on Enbridge to prepare a report to shareholders detailing the due diligence process used by Enbridge, its affiliates, and subsidiaries to identify and address social and environmental risks, including Indigenous rights risks, when reviewing potential acquisitions.