- Title: Military veterans to join Standing Rock 'water protectors' in pipeline protest
- Date: 5th December 2016
- Summary: NEAR CANNON BALL, NORTH DAKOTA, UNITED STATES (DECEMBER 4, 2016) (REUTERS) PROTESTER BLOWING REVEILLE AT OCETI SAKOWIN CAMP
- Embargoed: 20th December 2016 05:30
- Keywords: Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp U.S. military veterans Native Americans protest
- Location: NEAR CANNON BALL, NORTH DAKOTA, UNITED STATES
- City: NEAR CANNON BALL, NORTH DAKOTA, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Reuters ID: LVA0015BLVPL3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: In the back reaches of the Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp, U.S. military veterans, armed with saws, hammers and other tools, are quietly building barracks, an infirmary and a mess hall.
Despite the bitter cold and an evacuation order from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the veterans hope to erect enough space to house at least several hundred peers making their way into the Oceti Sakowin Camp here in Cannon Ball.
Veterans interviewed by Reuters gave a plethora of motives for traveling here. Some felt it was their patriotic duty to defend protesters, especially since Native Americans have historically had an active presence in the U.S. military.
"I am here because I saw on television what was taking place. I actually saw it on BBC news, not on American news because they weren't showing it. And they're doing things to people there that we don't even do in combat. And I cannot standby by taking an oath for this country and see what's happening here and not stand up for it," explained 30-year Navy man Rob McHaney from Nevada.
For others, coming here offers a sense of purpose they have lacked since returning to civilian society. For all, the camaraderie with those who have also shared military service was important.
"I just got tired of posting things on Facebook about what was happening and I just kinda woke up not even a week ago and just thought this is something I need to do and to be a part of," said Luke Capaso who spent seven years in the Air Force.
The response last month to a call for 2,000 veterans to act as a barrier between activists and law enforcement was much swifter than expected - with organizers having to stop accepting volunteers.
The veterans arriving say their presence will make it less likely that police will resort again to aggressive tactics, after water cannons and tear gas were used on a group of protesters in sub-freezing temperatures two weeks ago.
More than 500 activists have been arrested over the last several months.
Native Americans serve at a high rate in the armed forces, according to data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. A 2012 report showed more than 150,000 veterans of Native American descent. U.S. Defense Department data as of 2014 put Alaskan/Native American service members at more than 24,000.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has yet to grant a permit for Energy Transfer Partners to drill under Lake Oahe, a reservoir that is part of the Missouri River.
This one-mile stretch represents the last unfinished portion of the line in North Dakota, which will stretch as far as Illinois.
The chances that the pipeline will be stopped at this point seem slim. President-elect Donald Trump last week voiced support for the project, which has been delayed twice since September by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
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