The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] on Tuesday reported [press release] that police at the Standing Rock site in North Dakota have used life-threatening weapons to control protesters over the last two days. The ACLU reports that tear gas, rubber bullets, concussion grenades, mace, and water cannons have been used on the protesters. The Morton Country Sherriff [official website], Kyle Kirchemeir, rejected some of those claims in a press conference [Facebook video]. The protesters stated that the force was excessive and that the protests were peaceful while the police departments contend that the force was necessary in response to fires being started [NYT report] along a police barricade.
The Dakota Access Pipeline [advocacy website], is a partially constructed oil pipeline that would transport more than 470,000 barrels of oil per day over its 1,172 mile length through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. The protesters, who call themselves water protectors, are led in part by the Indigenous Environmental Network [advocacy website] and are comprised in part of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe [official website]. Tensions have risen since the protests began over the summer [NYT editorial], and police force has drawn criticism from multiple sources including the United Nations [JURIST report].