A growing group of military veterans are willing to put their bodies between Native American activists and the police trying to remove them
By Sam Levin in Cannon Ball, North Dakota / The Guardian / February 11, 2017
US veterans are returning to Standing Rock and pledging to shield indigenous activists from attacks by a militarized police force, another sign that the fight against the Dakota Access pipeline is far from over.
Army veterans from across the country have arrived in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, or are currently en route after the news that Donald Trump’s administration has allowed the oil corporation to finish drilling across the Missouri river.
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The growing group of military veterans could make it harder for police and government officials to try to remove hundreds of activists who remain camped near the construction site and, some hope, could limit use of excessive force by law enforcement during demonstrations.
“We are prepared to put our bodies between Native elders and a privatized military force,” said Elizabeth Williams, a 34-year-old air force veteran, who arrived at Standing Rock with a group of vets late on Friday. “We’ve stood in the face of fire before. We feel a responsibility to use the skills we have.”
It is unclear how many vets may arrive to Standing Rock; some organizers estimate a few dozen are on their way, while other activists are pledging that hundreds could show up in the coming weeks. An estimated 1,000 veterans traveled to Standing Rock in December just as the Obama administration announced it was denying a key permit for the oil company, a huge victory for the tribe.