Hundreds of water protectors injured after riot police fire water cannons and rubber bullets

National Lawyers Guild legal observers witnessed multiple injuries, including people being knocked unconscious and bleeding after being hit by rubber bullets.

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Hundreds of water protectors in North Dakota were injured over the weekend when police used water cannons against them.

The unarmed men and women were blasted with water in freezing cold temperatures and shot at with rubber bullets. Reports also mention further use of tear gas and concussion grenades. Flares used by law enforcement started grass fires, which the water protectors had to put out.

The Sacred Stone Camp released the following statement:

“Hundreds of water protectors were injured at the Standing Rock encampments when law enforcement blasted them with water cannons in freezing temperatures Sunday evening. The attacks came as water protectors used a semi-truck to remove burnt military vehicles that police had chained to concrete barriers weeks ago, blocking traffic on Highway 1806.

Water protectors’ efforts to clear the road and improve access to the camp for emergency services were met with tear gas, an LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device), stinger grenades, rubber bullets, and indiscriminate use of a water cannon with an air temperature of 26 degrees Fahrenheit.”

The water protectors were attempting to use a semi-truck to clear the burnt military vehicles and concrete barriers set up by law enforcement in an effort to block traffic on Highway 1806. The vehicles were initially burnt during law enforcement’s raid of the 1851 treaty camp in October.

Efforts to clear the road were so that emergency services could have better access to the camp, especially with the weather changes as winter approaches. According to Tara Houska, national campaigns director for Honor the Earth, “”For weeks, the main highway to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation has been cut off, with no movement by the state to address a public safety risk. Attempting to clear the road was met with police spraying people with water cannons in 26-degree weather—that’s deadly force, it’s freezing outside. They want to kill people for clearing a road? When will our cries be heard? Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Respect the rights of indigenous people, of all peoples.”

National Lawyers Guild legal observers witnessed multiple injuries, including people being knocked unconscious and bleeding after being hit by rubber bullets. Over 160 were injured, including “a 13-year-old girl who was shot in the face by law enforcement, two people suffered cardiac arrests, and many contusions and damage to hands from rubber bullets.”

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Emergency Medical Service department, along with medical services personnel from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Oceti Sakowin Camp, treated hundreds for CS gas, hypothermia, and blunt trauma.

Originally the Sheriff’s department told NBC that no water cannons were used, but later a spokeswoman for the same department, Donna Hushka, confirmed that water was used a “crowd control.”

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