As everyone recovers from yesterday’s feast and bask in the warm glow of family love (or bask in anger if politics were discussed), everyone should take a moment to remember the historical background of Thanksgiving. The history is not pretty but it is more important than ever especially with the timing of violence being used against protesters at Standing Rock. For a group of Veterans, they are planning to join the protests at Standing Rock by December 4th.
Opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota, have tried to stop the construction since late summer. The Dakota Access Pipeline is a controversial 1,170-mile project that, if completed, will shuttle an estimated 470,000 barrels of crude oil every day from North Dakota to Illinois. Protesters have held their ground for months despite there being more than 500 arrests and having water cannons, attack dogs, pepper spray, and rubber bullets used against them. On Sunday night, 400 protesters clashed with police, leading to the hospitalization of more than two dozen. A Bronx resident, Sophia Wilansky arm was severely injured by an apparent explosion with both side blaming each other since the clash.
Soon after, Wesley Clark Jr., Army Veteran and screen writer and Michael Wood Jr., Marine Corps Veteran and retired Baltimore police officer, have been organizing the trip to, “defend the water protectors from assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police force and DAPL security.” as well as, “draw national attention to the cause.” According to the Veterans Stand for Standing Rock social media pages, the group is comprised of Veterans from all U.S. Armed Forces: U.S. Army, United States Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard. So far their GoFundMe site has raised $565,275 of their $750,000 goal. The money will go towards food, supplies, and transportation for Veterans who attend.
There has been a media blackout at Standing Rock, with most information, pictures, and videos coming from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Making the situation worse is that any journalist reporting at Standing Rock is being targeted and classified as protesters, which was the argument used by Michael Wood Jr. charges against Democracy Now’s, Amy Goodman after she reported in the area. Any coverage from larger media outlets focus on violence and clashes making it out to be simple pandemonium. However, protesters, but especially Veterans Stand for Standing Rock, are very organized.
A document titled, “Veterans Stand for Standing Rock Operations Order”, details their mission, logistics, friendly and opposing forces as well as the execution of operation. Veterans are being asked to wear a piece from their old uniforms in order to gain the media’s attention. Even though this group will be organized as a unit, rank is not allowed to be worn. They are also asking them to bring body armor, ear plugs, and gas masks for those willing to go on Front Line Duty. Anyone without those three items of body gear will be issued reserved supplies. All of this might sound like an exaggeration but protesters and Sioux tribe members have faced excessive violence from police and DAPL security, prompting the United Nations to launch an investigation.
In the latest Commander to Troops video update, Clark, Jr. stated, “Our function here is to serve as the conscious for the nation.”
Even though Veterans Stand for Standing Rock have reached their 2,000 capacity, you can still support them by donating to their GoFundMe page.