As thousands of US military veterans assemble in North Dakota to protect the Water Protectors from the pipeline protectors, we're witness to a phenomenon I don't think we've seen before, at least not in my lifetime.
Essentially, it's a form of shock being applied to those who have always before been able to shock their adversaries without accountability or consequence. Now, all of a sudden, there will be witnesses who matter in the context of what's colloquially known as "law enforcement." And for once, the adversaries "law enforcement" is facing down -- and perhaps brutalizing as they have brutalized the Water Protectors -- will be their own peers, their own tribe, their own kind.
"Law enforcement" has been trying to squirm out of their self-created dilemma, first by issuing commands and orders for the protesters to leave their camps or face dire consequences; ordering supporters not to deliver essential supplies or they will face fines of $1000 or more; ordering emergency services not to provide emergency services to the camps without prior authorization from "law enforcement;" and so on.
And then, within hours, countermandering their own orders, denying they ever intended them to mean what they say, yadda yadda.
And when the vets started arriving and staring down "law enforcement" on the other side of police barricades (oh, how evocative, but I may not explore that in this post) the sound cannon is used to command a vet with a backpack to separate from the crowd and because "protesters have brought weapons..."
What do the vets do? They turn their backs and walk away.
Issue of the 'backpack' starts about 6:50 but the whole confrontation is worth watching.
They turn their backs and walk away.
It was brilliant.
When there are thousands of vets there staring down "law enforcement," I can well imagine that the officers behind their barricades will literally pee their pants.
It would be nice to think that many more of them will quit on the spot and at least some of them will join the vets with the Water Protectors, but that's not likely. Apparently the pipeline protectors are making a lot of money in overtime and other compensation (partly paid by the pipeline company? This isn't entirely clear.) and they can't afford to lose this added income. But we'll see.
Michael Woods and Wes Clark Jr are the instigators of this action, and so far, it seems to be going really well. They've raised about a million dollars to cover their own expenses, more than 3,000 have signed up to protect the Water Protectors, and 2,000 + are expected on scene by tomorrow.
That's apparently the maximum number the Standing Rock tribe thinks they can host at one time.
I'm finding I really like Standing Rock chairman David Archambault II and his steady, calming, and very positive approach to all this. He knows what he's doing and what needs to be done and he's become a wonderful counselor to those who sometimes let their anger or fear run away with them.
Something is definitely coming.
It's probably not what any of us expect.
UPDATE: A delegation from the Veterans group and the various Native groups met with representatives of "law enforcement" on Backwater Bridge (the scene of the notorious attack on Water Protectors on November 20) and apparently reached a tentative agreement to avoid further police assaults. According to a news conference given by the various sheriffs and the National Guard commander, "law enforcement" agreed to pull back from the north side of the bridge where they have erected their barricades and strung their razor wire in front of their military vehicles to protect the pipeline. They will do this, they say, in the interests of peace and harmony (bless their hearts) so long as the Water Protectors do not pass beyond the south end of the bridge, do not make any "aggressive" moves toward the police lines (wherever they may be), do not try to make a water crossing or pass over the land on either side of the bridge toward the north, and do not fly any drones over or beyond the north end of the bridge.
They are particularly annoyed with the drones that the Water Protectors fly over the scene documenting what's going on below. They've tried to shoot them down. It's really one of the more overtly cowardly responses that "law enforcement" has shown toward the Water Protectors.
Meanwhile Dave Archambault and the Governor of North Dakota (a newcomer named "Dalrymple") have agreed to meet face to face sometime in the future (no date set) to help resolve some of the outstanding issues surrounding the pipeline and the continuing opposition of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe to it.
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice has bestirred itself from its rather remarkable months-long slumber and is sending "mediators" or "arbitrators" and community policing representatives to the scene to help defuse and deescalate conflict. That's nice. The Water Protectors have been asking DoJ and the White House to intervene for months, but their pleas have gone largely unheeded. Now that the Vet contingent is almost fully assembled, it appears that The Powers That Be have awakened to a new reality.
While the "law enforcement" officials (particularly the sheriffs) tried to puff their chests and strut around like banty roosters, it's clear they are feeling somewhat chastised in the face of the resilience of the resistance, especially after their lies about the November 20 assault on the Water Protectors were revealed within minutes of their statements that night. (One reason they don't want drones or journalists documenting what's going on). The arrival of the Veterans standing with Standing Rock, as well as many, many others in support of the Water Protectors -- in the middle of a growingly harsh winter -- has demonstrated to them better than most anyone could have imagined that they are... wrong.
They've tried to make the Indians and their allies go away, and every time they try out some new brutality, more Indians and allies come. There are now perhaps 10,000 people gathered in the camps and more are arriving by the hour. I saw a report -- can't find it now -- that the women had gone over to Turtle Hill, a sacred site of ancestor burials, which "law enforcement" had been guarding against Indian intrusions. The women had removed the razor wire and other impediments to access and reclaimed the Hill.
Of course Trump has declared that the pipeline should go ahead and be finished as planned. After all, he has investments in it.
That's the important thing, isn't it?