Construction Driver Allegedly Runs Over Two DAPL Protesters and Fires Shotsby Jana Ritter - Published: 11/14/2016
With Trump's win making it even more likely the Dakota Access Pipeline will resume construction as planned, protesters continue to stand their ground at the DAPL construction site in North Dakota. The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation has gained support from people across the US and Canada in their protest against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline running under Lake Oahe and posing environmental dangers to communities living in the area. But a truck driver who apparently works and lives on the DAPL construction site decided he has had enough of the protestors period.
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The incident occurred on Saturday, when the driver (who has not yet been identified) made his way down the road towards the construction site entrance in a flatbed construction truck belonging to Four Square Concrete, a company based in New Jersey. But anti-pipeline protesters were holding a prayer ceremony and blocking traffic on the public road. As the driver tried making his up through the protesters, havoc erupted when someone noticed he was carrying a gun and alerted fellow protestors. But rather than letting him through, protestors gathered around his truck and tried to talk to him.
Several witnesses recorded the incident on video (watch video here) and the footage shows protesters surrounding the truck, some holding their hands up to reveal they were unarmed and others continuing to yell, “He’s got a gun!” “Put your gun away!” “We are unarmed!” However, the man continued driving and waving his pistol screaming, "This is my way home!" The protesters continued shouting back at him, "Go around! We're peaceful! We don't have guns!" The footage also reveals someone from the crowd shouting to the driver, "We love you! We care for you!" But the man continued driving slowly through the crowd when someone began shouting that a person was under the truck. Witnesses said they could hear the trapped protestor cry out and at one point the video shows the truck driver stop and get out of his vehicle, possibly to make sure nobody was trapped under the truck.
When he returned to the truck and continued driving, a second protestor screamed out and more people began shouting that a woman had been run over. Apparently the woman had her feet run over by the tires and her hand slashed open amongst all the chaos. “My feet are OK from him running me over," she later said but received stitches on her hand for the cut. The man continued driving and at that point a protestor shouted that the world needed to know what had just occurred. "Tweet this out! Let everybody know! That man just ran over a peaceful protector, two of them!" According to witnesses, the driver responded by firing seven shots into the air.
While Four Square Concrete did not confirm to media about whether the company employs the driver or whether he works on the Dakota Access Pipeline, sources on the scene believe that he is a DAPL employee. It is also unlikely that authorities are going to pursue or charge the driver, as their job has been more focused on dealing with the protestors themselves. Over the weekend, the Morton County Sheriffs Department arrested 33 protesters for obstructing the highway, slashing police-car tires, and vandalizing DAPL bulldozers. When a similar incident occurred nearly two weeks ago, with a DAPL employee pointing a rifle at protestors, the sheriffs department had released a statement saying he was the victim of an incident in which he acted in self-defense.
Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and protesters from across the US have taken a strong stand against pipeline construction arguing that it’s not only in direct violation of treaty land rights but will also cause unnecessarily damage to tribal lands, destroy artifacts, and could potentially poison waterways, including rivers such as the Missouri River and Lake Oahe.