United States veterans are mobilizing to protect water protectors at the Dakota Access Pipeline. The first veterans rolled in this week, and over 2,000 more who are part of the group Veterans for Standing Rock aim to arrive this weekend. They plan to gather peacefully, unarmed, according to their GoFundMe, to defend activists from what they describe as militarized law enforcement.
Army veteran Wesley Clark and Marine Corps veteran Michael A. Wood, Jr. organized the group Veterans for Standing Rock. They have raised over $850,000 on GoFundMe to help pay for travel expenses. Navy veteran Matthew Crane told Reuters he purchased a one-way ticket to North Dakota, and hopes the protesters and veterans can “shut this down before Christmas.” He also said the veterans were “standing on the shoulders of Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi.”
Some veterans condemned the group, saying protests had not been wholly peaceful. President Russ Stabler of the North Dakota Veterans Coordinating Council said joining the protest would mar veteran’s reputations.
Meanwhile President-elect Donald Trump said this week he supports finishing the Dakota Access Pipeline. His transition team said in a statement, “We respect all Americans’ first amendment right to peacefully protest, and we hope that local and federal officials continue to give support to local law enforcement so they are able to continue to protect these protesters.” We’re not sure if by “protect” they actually mean “spray protesters with rubber bullets, tear gas, and freezing water.”
Thousands of pipeline protesters now face snow and sub-zero temperatures. Items currently on the Sacred Stone Camp’s Amazon wishlist include propane, a snow plow, and a solar generator. Veterans for Standing Rock is still shy of their $1 million goal on GoFundMe; you can donate here. You can also donate money to the official Sacred Stone Camp GoFundMe here.