“I’m Afraid They Are Out to Kill”: Water Protectors Testify to Police Violence at Standing Rock

On Tuesday, Donald Trump took action to revive the contested Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. He signed the presidential memorandum as water protectors at Standing Rock in North Dakota were gathered to testify to a wide range of police abuse. One of those to testify was Diné water protector Marcus Mitchell, who has lost sight in his left eye after being hit by a bean bag round fired by police last week. We hear his testimony and then get response from water protector Bobbi Jean Three Legs of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and longtime Anishinaabe activist Winona LaDuke.


AMY GOODMAN: Trump’s presidential memos on the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline come as police violence continues at Standing Rock in North Dakota. This is Diné water protector Marcus Mitchell of the Navajo Nation describing how he was shot in the eye by a bean bag round by police on Backwater Bridge last week. He’s testifying to a panel of the United Nations working groups on human rights about the shooting.

MARCUS MITCHELL: After about five minutes on the bridge, my hands were raised in the air, and I was saying, “I’m an American citizen practicing my First Amendment right to freedom of speech. I am unarmed, and I am in peaceful protest.” I was then shot in the leg. I looked down. And as I looked up, a bean bag hit me—hit a shield that the person in front of me was holding. And then, another round came at my face and hit me—hit me—hit my eye directly. I then turned around to run and was nearly shot in the back of the head. At this point, I became disoriented. In the chaos, another water protector pushed me to the ground to protect.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Diné water protector Marcus Mitchell, who’s still not regained sight in his left eye after being shot by a police bean bag round last week. As we wrap up, I want to go to Winona, but first to Bobbi. Bobbi, you’re a young person. You’ve been joining with thousands of water protectors in North Dakota. Your thoughts right now?

BOBBI JEAN THREE LEGS: I’m afraid that someone’s going to get really hurt. I’m afraid that they’re out to kill. I believe that they have no hesitation in doing that. And I just need everybody around the world to stand up with us right now. I do not want anyone to get killed.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Winona LaDuke, in North Dakota right now, where you have traveled to in the midst of the presidential memo that was just given out, your final thoughts?

WINONA LADUKE: This is a test to civil society. You want a country entirely run by corporations and Trump, or do you want something that’s going to benefit the people? It’s really time for a movement of movements in this country. This is our moment to stand up and to protect everything that we value, because if we do not, things are not going to go well for us. So I just encourage people, find your courage. Stand up. Be strong. And let us vanquish evil back to where it came from.

AMY GOODMAN: Winona LaDuke, we want to thank you for being with us, Native American activist, executive director of Honor the Earth, lives and works on the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota, but speaking to us from Bismarck, North Dakota, where she has gone back and forth for so many months during the resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline. Here in Park City, Utah, Bobbi Jean Three Legs, from South Dakota, from Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, as well. Last year, she and [Joseph] White Eyes led a group of youth water runners on a 2,000-mile trek from Sacred Stone Camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, to Washington, D.C., where they delivered a petition against the Dakota Access pipeline to the Army Corps of Engineers. And in New York, Josh Fox, director of Gasland and How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change.

When we come back, we’ll get comment from Shailene Woodley. She herself faces trial for protest of the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota in a few weeks. She just left Park City. And we’ll talk about her response to the presidential memorandum. And then we’ll talk to Annie Leonard about pipeline politics in this country and around the world. She’s the head of Greenpeace. Stay with us.