Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Congress finally begins to notice the Dakota Access Pipeline protests at Standing Rock

With the presidential election fading in the rearview mirror, some mainstream media attention has finally been diverted away from the Donald Trump circus to other notable but neglected news stories — leading to much needed, and in some cases unwanted, national attention. Just as the Army Corps of Engineers has ordered the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to vacate the federal land they’ve occupied in North Dakota within days, the protests to protect tribal land and a vital water resource has garnered the attention of several high-profile Democratic members of Congress. In a letter sent to Attorney General Loretta Lynch late last week, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey called on the Department of Justice to open an investigation into the tactics used by police against peaceful protesters (who have designated themselves “water protectors”) and to deploy federal monitors to Standing Rock as reports emerge of violence against protesters. Booker cited “ongoing danger to both protesters and law enforcement,” at the sites of ongoing protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which indigenous protesters and their allies believe could contaminate the Missouri River, and desecrate sacred tribal sites. Last week, as the nation prepared to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, police used water cannons and rubber bullets on people attempting to halt the pipeline’s construction. Booker’s letter urged the DOJ to investigate “all credible reports of inappropriate police tactics … and send federal monitors to Standing Rock to ensure that protesters can peacefully assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights.” The New Jersey Democrat’s letter comes after Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., sent a letter to Lynch expressing a similar sentiment ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday...more

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