On Friday, Amnesty International dispatched human rights observers to North Dakota to monitor the ongoing repression of the thousands of Native Americans resisting the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline. Amnesty’s move came one day after hundreds of police with military equipment arrested over 140 people, after attacking them with pepper spray, Tasers, sound cannons, bean bag rounds and rubber bullets. More details are emerging from Thursday, including video footage of a Dakota Access security contractor holding an assault rifle, with his face covered by a bandana, apparently attempting to infiltrate a group of water protectors. A Standing Rock Sioux tribal member says he saw the man driving down Highway 1806 toward the main resistance camp with an AR-15 rifle on the passenger side of his truck. Protectors chased down his truck and then pursued him on foot in efforts to disarm him. In the video, the contractor can be seen pointing the assault rifle at the protectors as he attempts to flee into the water. He was ultimately arrested by Bureau of Indian Affairs police. Protectors say inside the man’s truck they found a DAPL security ID card and insurance papers listing his vehicle as insured by DAPL. For more, we speak with Dallas Goldtooth, organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we turn to the ongoing standoff at Standing Rock in North Dakota, where on Friday Amnesty International dispatched human rights observers to monitor the ongoing repression of thousands of resisting — thousands who are resisting the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline. Amnesty’s move came one day after hundreds of police with military equipment arrested over 140 people after attacking them with pepper spray, Tasers, sound cannons, bean bag rounds and rubber bullets. Native American water protectors who were arrested Thursday say police divided them up and sent them to remote jails around the state, where some of them had numbers written on their arms and were housed in what appeared to be dog kennels, without bedding or furniture, sometimes for days.
This comes as more details are emerging from Thursday, including video footage of a man who appears to be a Dakota Access security contractor holding a rifle, with his face covered by a bandana, apparently attempting to infiltrate a group of water protectors. A Standing Rock Sioux tribal member says he saw the man driving down Highway 1806 toward the main resistance camp with an AR-15 rifle on the passenger side of his truck. Protectors chased down his truck and then pursued him on foot in efforts to disarm him. In the video, the man can be seen pointing the rifle at the protectors as he attempts to flee into the water. He was ultimately arrested by Bureau of Indian Affairs police. Protectors said inside the man’s truck they found a DAPL security ID card and insurance papers listing his vehicle as insured by DAPL. That’s the Dakota Access pipeline.
Meanwhile, overnight on Saturday, water protectors reported a brush fire near their main resistance camp. They say they called 911, but no emergency teams responded. They also say the surveillance planes and helicopters, which have been flying almost constantly over the region in recent weeks, stopped flying about two hours before the fire was lit. Protectors believe the fire was intentionally lit by people working for the pipeline.
For more, we go to Dallas Goldtooth, organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, who was there through these last few days.
Dallas, thanks for joining us. Let’s first go to this just shocking video of a Dakota Access pipeline guard, who’s got a bandana on his face, who’s got a rifle in his hands. Explain what this is all about.
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: Thanks for having me on, Amy.
That moment, I was there when that — when this gunman, you know, was cornered into the middle of this pond nearby. And it was a very terrifying moment for a lot of us watching, I mean, to see this man pulling an assault rifle at our water protectors. And I think that — many blessings and gratitude to some of the military veterans within our security from within our Oceti Sakowin camp, who stepped up to negotiate and to de-escalate this man, to really talk to him to make sure that he did not hurt anybody, until the Bureau of Indian Affairs police officers could show up.
You know, your description is accurate. Individuals, our security teams on the ground noticed this man driving erratically, driving at high speeds through a crowded street — through the crowded highway. And they did their very best to incapacitate the vehicle and did their very best to de-escalate the situation, which they were successful in doing.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain —
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: I think that —
AMY GOODMAN: Explain who you understand he is.
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: I mean, it’s pretty straightforward. I mean, we found three — two documents that listed him as a Dakota Access worker. And he, himself, as I’ve understood, to even our security, stated that he worked for Dakota Access. And so, it was pretty straightforward. And I think that he’s a security contractor that has been hired by Dakota Access to guard its equipment, from what I believe, or at least to protect, you know, the workers or whatever it may be.
I think that it’s pretty terrifying to know that there — that Dakota Access has infiltrators within our camp, is paying for individuals like this, armed individuals, to create situations of escalation, potentially creating very, very dangerous situations by — you know, we don’t know what his intention could have been. He could have, you know, fired upon police, creating a situation where the police think it’s coming from our protectors when it’s not. I mean, it goes hand in hand with this series of mysterious situations that really paints — creates a situation where we have to feel suspicious about what Dakota Access’s intentions are. And it just clearly paints that Dakota Access has no regard for common decency or any kind of corporate responsibility. And it’s really surprising that people are still invested in this company.
AMY GOODMAN: Has Dakota Access pipeline responded to this video?
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: From what I understand, the initial response from Dakota Access is that they state that this individual does not work for Dakota Access, even though he had clear identification as a Dakota Access worker.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, it said — you see the ID. It says Kyle Thompson. Is that right?
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: Yes, yes. His name is on it. The insurance found in the truck is — belongs to Dakota Access. You know, he has an ID card with DAPL written on it. I mean, how much more evidence do you need?
AMY GOODMAN: Right. And did he say what his intentions were, as people surrounded him, as the police, the Bureau of Indian Affairs police, arrested him?
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: There’s a variety of accounts, but it was — from what I understood, that was told to me, that he was tasked with also identifying and being within the crowd, watching internally with the crowd, and that there was some suggestion that he might — he might have been tasked with instigating some sort of violence from within the crowd and to garner a reaction from law enforcement. I mean, that’s just what I’ve heard from different folks that were talking with him in that moment to de-escalate the situation.