Manitoba

Winnipegger at Standing Rock recalls people getting hosed and hit with tear gas

When Crystal Green walked towards a long-blocked bridge she couldn’t believe what she was seeing – rubber bullets, water cannons and canisters of what she thinks was tear gas.

Pipeline protesters were repelled by law enforcement at a bridge crossing on Sunday

Police use a water cannon on protesters during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. (Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

When Crystal Green walked towards a long-blocked bridge she couldn't believe what she was seeing — rubber bullets, water cannons and canisters of what she thinks was tear gas.

The Winnipegger has been taking part in the Dakota Access pipeline protests since Sept. 13 and was aghast at Sunday's violence.

"I saw people getting hosed down by cold water in sub-zero temperatures. People were suffering from hypothermia," she said.

"One of my friends got hit by some kind of canister. We are not sure if it was tear gas or something."

The 1,900-kilometre, four-state pipeline is being built to carry oil from western North Dakota to a shipping point in Illinois. However, construction of the $3.8-billion US pipeline has been protested for months by the Standing Rock Sioux and the tribe's allies.

Police tear gas protesters during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. November 20, 2016. (Stephanie Keith/Reuters)
The standoff started in Cannonball, N.D., around 6 p.m. after protesters tried to remove a burned-out truck on what's known as Backwater Bridge so that local traffic could move freely again. The bridge is not far from the encampment where they've been for weeks as they demonstrate against the pipeline.

"I saw about 400 people, they were all gathered on the bridge and just a little bit past the bridge in front of the barricade that has been up since Oct. 27," Green explained.

The sheriff's department said in a statement around 1 a.m. Monday that law enforcement officers "had rocks thrown at them, burning logs and rocks shot from slingshots," and that one officer had been hit on the head by a thrown rock.

Green says she saw the protesters, who call themselves water protectors, being at the end of the force, not inflicting it.

"It was a cold night so a lot of people as they were getting injured … there were more water protectors coming to the bridge to replace them. This went on for many hours," she said.

The standoff made Green resolved to stay with the camp and continue to support the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, where hundreds opposed to the pipeline are preparing their camp for a long fight and a cold winter.

"I have been here so long I feel like I should stay as long as I can stay," she said.

"I can't say when I will return but I know that when this is over I am coming home to my own responsibilities and that means protecting water as well at home."

With files from Stephanie Cram and The Associated Press

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