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The protest against the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota attracted the attention of the world and also Hollywood celebrities. Millions of dollars were donated. But what was the real story? It's not what you think. Find out more at http://nodaplprotest.com
There were thousands of people who left comments online or harassed the citizens of North Dakota. There were also protesters who were prolific in what they said online. These albums highlight some of these people and what they said or advocated during this protest. They also show certain individuals who chose to be "keyboard warriors", a type of activist that no doubt played a big role in this protest as far as fundraising and perpetuating it. The only way to combat those keyboard warriors was for community members to form private groups online and fight back.
For an environmental protest, there was incredible damage to the environment from firewood that was brought in from out of state (ND has strict rules on out-of-state wood being brought in because we do not have some of the pests other states have), consumption of propane and petroleum-based products, and the garbage and aftermath of the camps which were located on a flood plain and had to be cleared before spring flooding washed all of the garbage down the very river the protesters said they were trying to protect. Massive amounts of trash, debris, human waste, food waste, plastic, tents, canvas, wood, motor vehicle fluids (transmission fluid, anti-freeze, oil), and more were found in the camp.
Though the protesters claimed to be peaceful and prayerful, this was not the case for many. They also called North Dakota citizens hateful racists, but they were quite racist themselves. Their crime included theft, graffitti, online harassment, trespass, destruction of property, assault on law enforcement, inciting riots, poaching, and more. Some of the actions at the more violent incursions at Backwater Bridge could be considered domestic terrorism due to the use of incendiary devices (Molotove cocktails, propane tank bombs) used or intended to be used against law enforcement.
This protest attracted Black Lives Matter, and many other people who simply hate law enforcement and wanted to do battle with any form of authority. Disenfranchised veterans, far-right groups such as Oath Keepers, and anyone who had a bone to pick with law enforcement turned this into more of a protest against them rather than a pipeline. Law enforcement, and any emergency service personnel in North Dakota or other states that assisted in any way, were targeted. They were doxed, harassed via phone or in person, and received some of the most hateful name calling and internet memes you'll ever see.
While there were many good things for those who lived in the protest camps, as time went on, the protest changed. Drugs, sexual assault, weapons, and other criminal activity crept in.
Wesley Clark, Jr. and Michael Wood, Jr. brought several thousand veterans to the protest in early December 2016, just in time for a blizzard in which they all but abandoned them but kept the more than $1 million they raised on GoFundMe. They had documentary cameras there for a film project they were creating, but the veterans were mostly a tool. Mark Sanderson capitalized on that idea and created Veterans Respond, ensuring that a steady stream of disenfranchised veterans (many with serious PTSD issues) flowed into the camps.
Celebrities flocked by the droves to support the protest, but it is clear they had very little idea of what was going on. Media also felt the heat from both sides of the protests, but national media was especially hesitant to say anything negative about the protest due to the political climate during and after the 2016 election, and also because the reporters from national media outlets seemed unable to speak to community members outside of the protest or did not dare to question the narrative that protesters fed them. Whether it was because they were wary of saying anything negative about a protest that was framed as a Native American issue, or because they were lazy, there were a few instances of hilariously wrong reports coming out. A few were unintentional but many, particularly from Jordan Chariton of The Young Turks network, were very much intentional.
The cities of Bismarck and Mandan, as well as the farmers and ranchers who lived near the protests, experienced some terrible things that the news media did not report much and that the protesters mocked in private while publicly spun into their overall PR message. Any negative thing that happened to the landowners near the protest was blamed on various conspiracy theories but was never their own people.
The protest was rampant with propaganda, PR spin (the tribe had actually hired Pyramid Communications, a PR firm from Seattle), manipulated images and video, outright paranoia and myths being spread like wildfire on social media -- it got to the point where leaders within the protest camps themselves had to try to stop some of the more ridiculous paranoid lies going around. Some of these bizarre rumors were the use of chemtrails, that Morton County/US Government was controlling the weather and creating the blizzards that inconvenienced them, that Morton County was spraying them with chemicals, that someone was dropping apples on the camp, and of course, the biggest lie? That this was a peaceful protest.
By December of 2016, over $11 million had been raised on GoFundMe alone through 5,000 different protester accounts. This didn't account for the money raised on PayPal or other fundraising sources. There was repeated evidence of protesters who were being paid to come and agitate. The corruption and waste of money was evident everywhere you looked, yet the gullible public continued to give online as the protesters created drama after drama and claimed they were standing against fascist, racist regimes when the reality was anything but. Black Lives Matter leaders and members were also present, along with various Palestinian and Muslim groups. Many of these groups have known funding (BLM, for example, gets funding from George Soros). The massive amount of fund raising that used this protest is shocking...what you see here doesn't even touch it. Nearly every dramatic social media post or video ended with a "here's my GoFundMe page" and some heart and smiley emoticons. If you want a simple answer to what this protest was about, it's simple: money. Getting money from gullible people, or paying people to wreak havoc for their own ends. For a group of protesters who claim to be "woke", they were easily manipulated not by "big oil" but by other wealthy factions who benefited from civil unrest and railroads. They pushed all the right emotional buttons (indigenous rights, environment, bad government, anti-trump, anti-law enforcement, women's empowerment -- everything) and got millions and millions of dollars and supplies out of people. Many also used this to further their "career" as activists, and fund documentary films (e.g. Wesley Clark, Jr.). You can see dissent among some supporters, and even among Standing Rock residents who truly supported the early protest but not what it became.
The tribal responses varied over time, and from the different tribes. By December 2016, Standing Rock repeatedly and clearly asked the protesters to leave. Various factions and leaders within the tribes did not agree on a course of action, and so the message was confused and it created much infighting in the tribes.
This protest, as it moved from its peaceful start into the more violent and aggressive form, began to show an ugly truth: there was an attempt to resurrect the old American Indian Movement (AIM). The players involved, and the rhetoric being used, all pointed to this. AIM was a group known for violence, including rape, kidnapping, and murder. People from around the world gave money for what they thought was a protest about fossil fuels or Native American rights, but there was something much different going on.