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Military vets join pipeline protesters as they vow to stay put despite threat of closure

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Oil Pipeline Protests
Organizers of protests against construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline speak at a news conference on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, near Cannon Ball, N.D. They said they have a right to remain on land where they have been camped for months. They made the statement a day after tribal leaders received a letter from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, telling them the land would be closed to the public on Dec. 5. (AP Photo/James MacPherson)

NORTH DAKOTA, U.S. – The protest against Dakota Access Oil Pipeline has become more impassioned as the Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has reportedly received a letter from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announcing that public access in all federal lands near Cannon Ball, North Dakota will be closed for safety reasons. Though the protesters were asked to leave that federal land by a given deadline, they have decided to stay put.

Dave Archambault, Standing Rock Sioux tribal leader said, “The letter states that the lands will be closed to public access for safety concerns.”

The line was built by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners. A portion of the pipeline will be in Schuyler, Brown, Pike, Morgan, Scott and Macoupin County, including Mount Sterling and Meredosia.

President Barack Obama said he was mulling rerouting the pipelines earlier this month and said that his administration would be monitoring the “challenging situation.” However, he decided to “let it play out for several more weeks.”

John Hoeven, a Republican U.S. Senator and Heidi Heitkamp, Democratic U.S. Senator said that for public safety issues the protesters would have to move from their camping ground. But, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple said on Saturday that it was a federal government’s job to peacefully close the camp.

Hoeven, in a statement, said, “The well-being and property of ranchers, farmers and everyone else living in the region should not be threatened by protesters who are willing to commit acts of violence.”

Heitkamp said the U.S Corps of engineers’ order was “a needed step to support the safety of residents, workers, protesters and law enforcement.”

Isaac Weston, a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe from South Dakota said that indigenous people served as keepers of the land as always and no one had the right to exclude them. He said that they supported them saying that they had rights to be there to protect the land and water.

Dallas Goldtooth, a protest organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network said that the government’s decision appeared as an atrocious example that colonization never ended for them. He believes that most of the people will not leave the place.

Meanwhile, thousands of military veterans from U.S. Armed Forces, including the U.S. Army, U.S. , U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Coast Guard have decided to join the peaceful protest in the area. The move is named as ‘Veterans Stand for Standing Rock.’

Organisers, who urged the veterans, said, “We are calling for our fellow veterans to assemble as a peaceful, unarmed militia at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation on December 4-7 and defend the water protectors from assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police force and DAPL security.”

The veterans have been asked to be prepared for upcoming police violence. They have asked volunteers to “bring body armor, gas masks, earplugs, and shooting mufflers but no drugs, alcohol, or weapons.”

The organizers have already arranged up to $200,000 in donations for the veterans’ travel to North Dakota and other legal fees.

Clark Jr. and Wood Jr., two of the primary organizers of the campaign said, “This country is repressing our people. If we’re going to be heroes, if we’re really going to be those veterans that this country praises, well, then we need to do the things that we actually said we’re going to do when we took the oath to defend the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic.”

“We’re not going out there to get in a fight with anyone. They can feel free to beat us up, but we’re 100 percent nonviolent,” they added.

On the other hand, the President-elect Donald Trump has already invested close to $1.5 million in the controversial $3.8 billion project. This could affect any of his decisions on the project in future.

Sharon Buccino, director of the land and wildlife program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group said, “Trump’s investments in the pipeline business threaten to undercut faith in this process — which was already frayed — by interjecting his own financial well-being into a much bigger decision.”

“This should be about the interests of the many, rather than giving the appearance of looking at the interests of a few — including Trump,” he added.

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