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The protest against the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota attracted the attention of the world and Hollywood celebrities. Millions of dollars were donated. But what was the real story? 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. (Note: There are several hundred individual albums that could eventually be added to this, if time/desire to do so allows.)
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. The camps were located on a flood plain and had to be cleared before potential spring flooding washed all of the garbage down the very river the protesters said they were trying to protect. Millions of pounds 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.all of them. They also called North Dakota citizens hateful racists, but some were racist themselves. Their crime included theft, graffitti, online harassment, trespass, destruction of property, assault on law enforcement, inciting riots, possible 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 (e.g. Molotov cocktails) used or intended to be used against law enforcement.
This protest attracted Black Lives Matter,disenfranchised veterans, far-right groups such as Oath Keepers, and anyone who seemed to have a bone to pick with law enforcement, turning 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. The book outlines examples of some of this in greater detail.
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. As noted in the book, the money was not used as was promised, leaving the veterans in the lurch and Clark in the blame. In an interview in the book, Clark, and another source, alleged that Wood had taken the money.
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 lies (e.g. chemical weapons from airplanes). 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 so on.
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. The book outlines more of these funds in detail. If you want an answer as to what this protest was about, it's clear that for some, it was simply money. Getting money from trusting people, or paying people to wreak havoc for their own ends. Many seemed to use 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, especially in regards to the money.
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. The 2017 tribal election saw the Chairman Archambault and other council members voted out and replaced.
This protest, as it moved from its peaceful start into the more violent and aggressive form, began to show an ugly truth: there seemed to be an attempt to resurrect the old American Indian Movement (AIM). The players involved, and the rhetoric being used, were noticeably present. 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 in some cases.