World Bulletin / News Desk
US military veterans will meet with tribal leaders on Saturday as they continue to entrench themselves in a North Dakota camp where thousands of activists are protesting a multibillion-dollar pipeline project near a Native American reservation.
Veterans Stand for Standing Rock members will meet with Standing Rock Sioux elders to determine how the potentially 3,500 veterans arriving over the weekend can aide protesters who have spent months demonstrating against plans to route the Dakota Access Pipeline beneath a lake near the tribe's reservation.
Tribal leaders have asked US veterans, who aim to form a wall in front of police to protect the protesters, to avoid confrontation with authorities and not get arrested.
There have been violent confrontations near the route of the pipeline with state and local law enforcement, who used tear gas, rubber bullets and water hoses on the protesters, even in freezing weather.
"I felt it was our duty and very personally more of a call of duty than I ever felt in the service to come and stand in front of the guns and the mace and the water and the threat that they pose to these people," said Anthony Murtha, 29, a Navy veteran from Detroit, at the Oceti Sakowin camp.
Some 564 people have been arrested, the Morton County Sheriff's Department said.
The number of protesters in recent weeks has topped 1,000. State officials on Monday ordered them to leave the snowy camp, which is on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land, citing harsh weather, but on Wednesday they said they would not enforce the order.
Two weeks ago the US government put a halt to the pipeline construction project, saying more analysis and debate are needed.
Pipeline operators Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics Partners struck back, asking a court to stop regulators from further delaying the project, to be built under the Missouri River and man-made Lake Oahe in North Dakota.
The waterways are the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's drinking water source, and it has objected to building the 1,172-mile (1,886-kilometer) pipeline underneath the river and lake, for fear that it might leak.
The tribe, which now believes it has the momentum in its battle against the companies, wants the pipeline's route altered away from lands near its reservation. It also claims those lands contain sacred historic artifacts.
The conflict between the tribe and the oil pipeline company has galvanized North American native tribes and supporters, who have camped in the thousands near the construction site for months in an effort to block it.
There have been sympathetic protests nationwide, with celebrities, politicians and environmental activists joining the cause.
Last Mod: 03 Aralık 2016, 18:53