— IndigenousEnviroNet (@IENearth) November 21, 2016
Ongoing protests by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (and their sympathizers) — who maintain that the Dakota Access Pipeline will disrupt sacred sites and possibly contaminate drinking water — saw authorities launch water cannons (along with rubber bullets and tear gas) into the crowd of protesters in below-freezing weather on Sunday.
The Guardian reports that the water cannons injured 167 people (out of 400 total protesters) with 7 hospitalized (including 3 elders). The Standing Rock Medic and Healing Council calls upon authorities to “to immediately stop the potentially lethal use of these confrontational methods” and warns that there’s a “real risk of loss of life” from hypothermia to protesters who cannot warm up in the sub-freezing conditions. That doesn’t even account for the impact of the water cannons themselves.
Throughout the protests, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department has provided their narrative on Facebook. In the above photo, the department describes “an ongoing riot” on a bridge where “protesters have started a dozen fires near the bridge.” However, some maintain that law enforcement started several fires, and The Guardian reports how protesters only lit “two bonfires to keep people warm and make soup and tea” while law enforcement began the rest of the blazes while discharging weapons.
Meanwhile, the below photo shows that the cannons were possibly being aimed at people rather than towards any fires.
The violence over the $3.8 billion project is only growing more intense with time. Tear gas and dog attacks were first used to deter protesters, and even journalists have met rubber bullets for their trouble. President Obama is mulling over solutions, which could either include a rerouting or a green light for the project.