2,000 Veterans To Form 'Human Shields' To Protect Standing Rock Protesters

Their support comes after state officials issued a deadline for protesters to vacate.
Protesters have been fighting against the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline in their territory.
Protesters have been fighting against the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline in their territory.
Boston Globe via Getty Images

The protestors of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota are about to get some major support.

More than 2,000 veterans have agreed to act as “human shields” to protect protesters from December 4 to 7, according to a Facebook event. They launched the effort, called Veterans Stand for Standing Rock on Tuesday and after months of protesters clashing with the police over the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

The same day the group announced its initiative, state officials threatened to impose fines and block supplies from reaching a nearby camp where protesters reside. Though officials backed away from the threat, Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s mandatory, immediate order for evacuation due to “anticipated harsh weather conditions,” announced Monday, still stands.

Protesters told CBS, however, that they won’t be moved. Community members are concerned that the $3.78 billion pipeline, which would carry at least about 470,000 barrels of oil across four states daily, would pollute a major water source and destroy ancestral burial and sacred prayer sites (The Guardian reports that construct workers have already destroyed some of these cultural sites). Protester Amos Cook told the outlet that they’re “not planning on going nowhere until we accomplish what we came here to do.”

The veterans will protest through the December 5 deadline the Army Corps placed on the Sioux tribe to vacate. On their Facebook event page, the group says its aim is to “support our country” and “stop this savage injustice being committed right here at home.” Though their protest will be nonviolent, they urge participants to bring body armor, gas masks, earplugs and shooting mufflers since protesters have been injured by police force. No drugs, alcohol or weapons will be allowed.

Veterans Stand for Standing Rock also launched a GoFundMe in early November to raise money to provide food, transportation and supplies for protesters.

To learn more about their fundraising efforts, click here.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated that the pipeline cost $3.8 million to construct; that figure is actually $3.78 billion. It also misstated how many barrels of oil the pipeline would transport daily.

Language has been updated to note that The Guardian has reported that damage has already been done to other sacred tribal sites.

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