U.S Veterans Deploy To Standing Rock To Form Human Shields Around Water Protectors

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The fight against the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline is far from over.

The Trump administration, unsurprisingly, reversed the Obama administration’s denial of a permit to the company seeking to finish construction of the pipeline, but Native American activists and their allies are not going down without a fight.

A number of veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces have begun returning to Standing Rock, North Dakota, over the past week or two, where the main front of the on the ground conflict between proponents of the pipeline and those opposed to it has taken place.

Veterans already visited Standing Rock in late 2016, at about the same time as the Obama admin officially denied the permit to the company seeking to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline. Now, however, President Trump himself signed an executive order jumpstarting the efforts to complete the pipeline, so veterans are making their way back.

These veterans are serious about their intentions. They say that should violence erupt while they are at Standing Rock, then they intend to use their bodies to shield the younger, untrained Native Americans and others on the site who may be in the police force’s line of fire.

Dan Luker, a 66-year-old veteran of the Vietnam War who was at Standing Rock in December, cast the veterans’ actions in a broad social context of making amends for the many atrocities that have occurred under the Army’s watch throughout history.

He said, as quoted by The Guardian:

‘This is the right war, right side. Finally, it’s the US military coming on to Sioux land to help, for the first time in history, instead of coming on to Sioux land to kill natives. I don’t want to see a twentysomething, thirtysomething untrained person killed by the United States government.’

One of the leaders of the on the ground Native American resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline said that she welcomed the veterans.

“The veterans are going to make sure everything is safe and sound,” LaDonna Brave Bull Allard said, adding, “the people on the ground have no protection.”

Indeed, there have been numerous incidents of police instigated violence throughout the many months of the Standing Rock protest. The veterans would like to keep such incidents in check, both by helping activists prepare for any potential police instigated violence and via acutely protecting activists in any violent situations.

Featured Image via Scott Olson/Getty Images