In the wake of 140 arrests of people protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline last week, tribal leaders are criticizing law enforcement’s tough tactics. At a press conference in the state capital on Saturday, the head of the Standing Rock Sioux claimed 40 protesters sustained injuries during a confrontation with police last Thursday. Chairman Dave Archambault says some have welts and others, broken bones.
“Law enforcement across the surrounding areas and adjacent states came in with aggression, ” he said, “and used weapons to force innocent people backwards.”
Officers used pepper spray and fired bean bag rounds to remove protesters from private property and a highway. Police say they were forced to act after making repeated requests that protesters move to a different location.
Archambault indicated that protesters may bring a class action suit against law enforcement and the state. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe may also sue, according to Chairman Harold Frazier. The Cheyenne River Sioux reservation borders Standing Rock in South Dakota.
“I have a tribal member who was praying in a sweat lodge that was arrested for praying,” said Frazier. “How would America feel if I went into their church and pulled them out and arrested them?”
Archambault repeated his call for the pipeline to be rerouted away from water. It’s slated to cross under the Missouri River next to his reservation.