Militarization and Mistaken Identity: Police Crack Down on DAPL Protectors

Mary Annette Pember An increasingly militarized police presence is cracking down via video and other technology to identify and arrest water protectors at Dakota Access pipeline construction sites—even when they’re not present.


Water protectors opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) construction near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota may be covering their faces with good reason—to keep from being identified by the increasingly militarized police, who are using facial-recognition technology to spot people so they can press charges.

But the technology isn’t foolproof, as Greg Grey Cloud of the Crow Creek Tribe in South Dakota can attest. He was arrested on September 28 after voluntarily surrendering himself to North Dakota State investigators at the Morton County jail. He traveled to North Dakota from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota after learning that there was a warrant for his arrest alleging that he had committed criminal trespass during the now famous September 3 confrontation between DAPL security guards and their dogs, and the water protectors opposing the pipeline.

Although Grey Cloud, a well-known activist and co-founder of Wica Agli, a traditional Lakota men’s society created to protect and support women, has traveled to Cannon Ball and visited the water protector camps, he was in Rosebud at a family barbecue when the September 3 action took place.

Lindsay Wold, special agent with the North Dakota bureau of criminal investigation, issued the warrant based on surveillance video footage. Grey Cloud and his attorney, however, were surprised to learn that the warrant contained a “no bond” stipulation requiring Grey Cloud to remain in jail overnight until his case could go before the judge later the next day.

“I think they are targeting Indians unfairly,” he said.

It wasn’t Grey Cloud’s first time behind bars for asserting Native rights. In 2014 he was arrested and charged with disrupting Congress and disorderly conduct after he broke out into a traditional Lakota honor song when the Senate voted down legislation attempting to push through the Keystone XL pipeline without federal review. His case was later dismissed.

The North Dakota criminal trespassing warrant was also dismissed in Morton County Court on September 29, though “without prejudice”—meaning that authorities can revisit the warrant at a later date if they choose, according to Grey Cloud.

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