By Katie Herzog
Police in North Dakota turned tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons on 400 Standing Rock protesters Sunday night as temperatures dipped into the mid-20s. At least 167 protesters were injured and seven were taken to the hospital. Activists at Standing Rock and beyond are wondering why President Obama has yet to speak about the incident.
“Standing Rock is the moral center of the nation right now,” said 350.org founder Bill McKibben. “The real question is why there’s no response from the White House to the kind of abuses that would make us protest loudly if they happened abroad.”
The clash started on Sunday when about 100 protesters, who call themselves water protectors, tried to clear a police barricade from a bridge between the Standing Rock encampments and Bismarck, the nearest large city. The pair of burned out military vehicles that make up the barricade have blocked the main route to Bismarck for three weeks, forcing emergency vehicles and other traffic to take a 20-mile detour.
“Attempting to clear the road was met with police spraying people with water cannons in 26 degree weather — that’s deadly force, it’s freezing outside,” said Tara Houska, national campaigns director for Honor the Earth, in a statement. “They want to kill people for clearing a road?”