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2,000 Veterans Arrive at Standing Rock to Give Water Protectors a Break

© AP Photo / James MacPhersonNo DAPL Banner at North Dakota Access Site
No DAPL Banner at North Dakota Access Site - Sputnik International
Thousands of US veterans have begun arriving at a campsite in North Dakota where Native Americans have been demonstrating against the construction of an oil pipeline that they state threatens the region’s water supply and damages sacred sites.

The veterans plan to form a "human shield" around the protesters this weekend so that they can have some rest after months of an energy-sapping standoff.

"We want to offer them a moment of peace and, if we can, take a little bit of pressure off," said Ashleigh Jennifer Parker, a Coast Guard veteran and spokeswoman for Veterans Stand for Standing Rock.

Dozens of protestors demonstrating against the expansion of the Dakota Access Pipeline wade in cold creek waters confronting local police, as remnants of pepper spray waft over the crowd near Cannon Ball, N.D., Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016. - Sputnik International
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Parker added that the issue deserves more coverage by the US mainstream media and that the veterans hope their involvement will help draw the public's attention to the inhuman ways in which the protesters are being treated by law enforcement.

There have been multiple reports of police outfitted in full military-style riot gear using pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons deployed in sub-freezing temperatures against the protesters, even elders.

New York-based activist Sophia Wilansky was forced to have her arm amputated after she was wounded by a blast from a concussion grenade fired at the peaceful protesters by police. In another incident, protester Vanessa Dundon was struck by a tear gas canister and is now at risk of becoming blind.

"The militarized police paid for by tax dollars… is unconstitutional," Parker said.

"We're hoping if we stand together in formation and look the aggressors in their face… if they can treat us the same way (as they have the protesters) then that should showcase to the American people what's going on up there."

Police use a water cannon on protesters during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. November 20, 2016. - Sputnik International
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She stressed that the veterans will carry no weapons and are preparing for a peaceful protest. They plan to remain at the site at least through December 7.

The approximately 1,200-mile Dakota Access pipeline is intended to transport some 450,000 barrels of oil per day across the Missouri River and other sensitive ecological habitats. According to the leaders of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Energy Transfer Partners' $3.8 billion pipeline will destroy sacred sites near the tribe's reservation and risk poisoning the water supply of millions of people.    

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