Police raid on anti-pipeline camp draws condemnation from Indigenous groups, celebrities

Indigenous groups — and some Hollywood celebrities — are condemning a police raid on a camp set up by people opposed to the contentious Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in southern North Dakota.

On Thursday, authorities used armoured vehicles, pepper-spray, sound cannons and rubber bullets to clear people trying to block construction of the pipeline. Much of the nearly six-hour police raid was broadcast live on social media by people on the scene, as dozens were arrested.

“We need our state and federal governments to bring justice and peace to our lands, not the force of armoured vehicles,” said Standing Rock Sioux tribal chair Dave Archambault II in a statement.

Leaders, celebrities add support

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the largest and oldest Indigenous political organization in the United States, voiced their support for the tribe.

“We ask those that are watching from afar to hold our brothers and sisters at Standing Rock in our thoughts and prayers during this challenging time,” stated NCAI president Brian Cladoosby.

Actor Mark Ruffalo, who recently visited Standing Rock with the Reverend Jesse Jackson, spoke out against the raid in interviews with CNN and MSNBC.

“Most of the people there are young people,” Ruffulo told The Last Word host Lawrence O’Donnell. “Fifteen-year-old kids, girls, getting maced in the face, getting hit with rubber bullets. Young people, in prayer.” 

Divergent star Shailene Woodley, who was arrested three weeks ago while supporting the Standing Rock Sioux, used her Twitter account, with over 1-million followers, to garner support for the tribe’s fight against the pipeline.

Actor Chris Hemsworth, who is currently filming Thor: Ragnarak, posted a photo on his Instagram account pledging support for the Standing Rock Sioux, holding a sign with the film’s director, Taika Waititi.

“Standing with those who are fighting to protect their sacred land and water,” the actor wrote, while also taking the opportunity to apologize for wearing a “Native American” costume at a Halloween party last year.

Thousands of people have come to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation since a group of young people from the community first stood up against the pipeline this past summer. There have been over 200 arrests in confrontations with police, which have escalated in recent weeks.

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