Several quotations were released by the National Sheriff’s Association which highlighted the involvement of professional protesters and activists in the ongoing anti-Dakota Access protests in North Dakota.
Remarkably, even members of the Standing Rock community seem to bemoan the behavior and attitude of non-Native Americans participating in the protests. The camps have attracted disaffected groups, often with radical views, from across the country who are pushing for more confrontation with police and pipeline workers. Even Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault lamented the environmental impact of so many people squeezed onto such a small piece of land: “Before this entire movement started, that was some of the most beautiful land around… There was a place down there where eagles, over 100 eagles would come and land. There were game down there—deer, pheasants, elk, geese. Now, it’s occupied by people. And when masses of people come to one place, we don’t take care of it.” (Valerie Richardson, “Complaints Grow Over Whites Turning Dakota Access Protest Into Hippie Festival,” Washington Times, 11/28/16)
Here are a few other quotes from members of the local government and the protesters:
Morton County Commission Vice Chairman Bruce Strinden: “For many of these radical environmental groups and professional protesters who have come into our county, from everywhere from California to New York, the facts would have ruined a perfectly good protest opportunity. Most never met a protest they didn’t like, and they certainly never let the truth get in the way of their national environmental agenda.” (Bruce Strinden, “Who Are The Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters Standing With,” Washington Examiner, 11/28/16)
Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney: “There’s definitely a group in here that uses [the peaceful protesters] as their disguise… [These protestors] want back through [police lines] because they know if they can get through they can get up to the drill pad site, they can get to the area where the workers are. I guarantee you if they get through us there’s going to be people getting hurt because they will confront the workers up there, and they will defend themselves. And the best way we can protect everybody is be a barrier in between that and where they want to go do the damage. They’ve made it very clear that they know if they can stop the drilling or stop the company by damaging their equipment or damaging their stuff then they feel they’ll have stopped it.” (Morton County North Dakota, “Know the Truth – A series of videos about the Dakota Access Pipeline Protest at Standing Rock,” YouTube, 11/28/16)
Former Standing Rock Protestor Alicia Smith: “Need to get something off my chest that I witnessed and found very disturbing in my brief time there that I believe many others have started to speak up about as well. White people colonizing the camps… They are coming in, taking food, clothing etc and occupying space without any desire to participate in camp maintenance and without respect of tribal protocols… These people are treating it like it is Burning Man or The Rainbow Gathering and I even witnessed several wandering in and out of camps comparing it to those festivals.” (Valerie Richardson, “Complaints Grow Over Whites Turning Dakota Access Protest Into Hippie Festival,” Washington Times, 11/28/16)
Standing Rock Tribal Chairman David Archambault: “[The camp is in] a flood zone, so when the floodwaters come up, that waste is going to be contaminating the water. We’re no different than the oil company, if we’re fighting for water. What’s going to happen when people leave? Who has to clean it up? Who has to refurbish it? It’s going to be us, the people who live here.” (Valerie Richardson, “Complaints Grow Over Whites Turning Dakota Access Protest Into Hippie Festival,” Washington Times, 11/28/16)