Law Enforcement Sprays DAPL Protesters With Fire Hoses In Below-Freezing Temperatures

Photo: REUTERS/Stephanie Keith.
A video released by The Guardian Monday night shows police spraying Dakota Access Pipeline protesters with what Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmaier claims are fire hoses.

But the Standing Rock Medic & Healer Council, a medical group in support of the protest, wrote on Facebook that the machines were water cannons and that pepper spray, tear gas, concussion grenades, and rubber bullets were also used.

"Turn in your badges and go home. Stop trying to give people hypothermia," one protestor is heard yelling in the video. Indeed, 26 people have reportedly been hospitalized as a result of the incident combined with the 22-degree weather, some for hypothermia.

Even more people — over 300 total — have been injured. Several suffered from bone fractures, some were hit by rubber bullets, and one became unconscious.

"Projectiles in the form of tear gas canisters, rubber bullets, and concussion grenades led to numerous blunt force traumas including head wounds, lacerations, serious orthopedic injuries, eye trauma, and internal bleeding," the council wrote.

Kirchmaier said at a press conference that the police were within their rights to use these methods to try to curb the demonstration.

"We’re just not going to tolerate people and protesters in large groups coming and threatening officers," he said. "So as this was going on, the water was used as a tool to help quell that situation, and when it was no longer necessary, it was not used any longer."

But physician Rupa Marya, who has treated pipeline protesters, told The Guardian that the use of the weapons was dangerous. "If the police are going to be there actively spraying people with water in 27-degree weather, its' putting people at tremendous risk for death from hypothermia," she said.

ACLU of North Dakota policy director Jen Cook agreed and said the ACLU is asking the Department of Justice to look into the case.
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