CANNON BALL, N.D.—As a few hundred people sit in a group, Harmony Lambert, one of two seasoned volunteers, ends her training session.
“We are here to stop the pipeline. It is not about protesting,” Lambert says. “The goal is to be strategic. Keep that in mind.”
The acts of civil disobedience she is referring to are directed toward Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the Texas-based company building the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL). When construction is disrupted, it costs Energy Partners a reported $2.2 million a day (not including the drop in its stock prices). Training shows the “water protectors” how they should react to, and endure, violence from opposition forces—the police and pipeline security personnel.
The members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are unequivocally nonviolent. The commitment to nonviolence is clear and has been repeatedly demonstrated. It doesn’t mean they are pacifists, but they understand that a battle cannot be won by throwing a rock at a tank. In training DAPL protesters, they explain that women, the elderly and native people are always the first to be assaulted by the police, and the leaders teach the group how to protect the vulnerable, knowing that in moments of confrontation, chaos ensues.
Tuesday, a group of Native Americans and other activists go to a DAPL storage unit. They are protesting the “man camps,” where out-of-town pipeline workers stay and people on the ground allege that Native American women have been sexually assaulted and gone missing.