Yesterday, an unnamed source working on the pipeline told Wanderer News that protesters had thrown rocks at pipeline workers.
But police officers and officers with the Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs both told Wanderer News that they hadn’t heard such reports of rocks being thrown by protesters.
Spirit Windwalker, 50, didn’t confirm that such instances had occurred but said “young bucks on the front line tend to get overzealous” and often “bad apples do stupid shit” in response to police brutality “during the heat of the moment.”
“There’s been dogs and we’ve been bitten. A girl has had her arm broken by police,” Windwalker said. “The thing is, when the police get off work, they keep their uniforms on and take off their patches to do security work for DAPL.”
The scene at Standing Rock often looks militant to an outsider, with trucks lined up in formation and men wearing camouflage and boots. Police have also set up bases outside the protest area, with flashing lights and security checkpoints.
Police have also scouted the area with low-flying aircraft, incentivizing protestors to fly kites, Windwalker said.
But Windwalker said their approach is always proactively peaceful and he doesn’t want anyone from either side getting hurt.
“There’s no reason for anyone to get hurt from either side, but this is a really sacred spot,” he said. “The cops have actually been really respectful all things considered. they’ve honored that we don’t allow weapons here and don’t come in.”
Windwalker said that nstead of weapons, Indians resort to peaceful protest.
“We go to these sites and we plant sacred and protected by law plants because I’ve watched them stop pipeline construction in the past,” he said. “But here, they plow right through them! They even plow throw sacred graveyards man! That’s why everyone here is so angry! They’re just pushing graves and laying pipe.”
Windwalker said that when police do eventually come, they’ll use gas, dogs and audio cannons.
“But historically, in other action situations, the police usually give fair warning and a deadline to disperse before the arrests,” Windwalker said.
It’s pitch black in these North Dakota hills but the lights pollution from the pipeline workers can be seen illuminating the clouds, showing protesters their progress. Windwalker estimates that the pipeline and police forces will clash with protesters within 48 hours.
Other protesters at the front lines estimate much sooner, sometime in the middle of the night.
“If you don’t want to get arrested tonight, you should probably head back to main camp,” a man puffing on a hand-rolled cigarette at the front line camp said. “The sheriff’s department did an interview with media earlier and indicated they’d be moving in sometime in the night if we don’t leave.”
In the last few days, officials have set a no-fly zone over the area and have shot down Natives’ surveillance drones, Windwalker said.
“They’ve said that we’ve shot arrows at helicopters but that makes no sense,” he said. “But those aircraft would have to be flying really low for an arrow to even be a minor threat.”
Windwalker said that the tension needs to resolve quickly.
“Many have said that this is the last few days they’re going to stay here,” he said. “They’re willing to do anything and everything they can not to allow DAPL to happen.”