Veterans Continue To Serve Their Country At Standing Rock
There’s a planned deployment to Standing Rock, scheduled for December 4, but these men and women will be standing with the citizens protesting desperately to keep their lands and water clean.
These veterans believe that retiring their uniforms doesn’t mean they are exempt from serving and protecting their country. They are outraged over the Dakota Pipeline, and further outraged over the treatment of the people trying to stop it.
Wes Clark Jr. is the man behind the three-day deployment of U.S. military veterans to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The standoff between the protesters and the law continues to escalate, resulting in horrific injuries to protesters.
He is also a former Army officer who is openly and thoroughly disgusted with the violence being inflicted upon his fellow Americans.
“First Americans have served in the Unites States Military, defending the soil of our homelands, at a greater percentage than any other group of Americans. There is no other people more deserving of veteran support.”
The standoff between protesters at Standing Rock and law-enforcement backed security personnel has grown so violent that it triggered a United Nations investigation into potential human rights abuses. And to Clark, it seems obvious that veterans should continue their service to their country by stepping up and stepping in.
“Most civilians who’ve never served in a uniform are gutless worms who’ve never been in a fight in their life. So if we don’t stop it, who will?”
Non-Violent Advocates And Warriors
Joining Clark in the deployment to Standing Rock is Michael A. Woods Jr., a former Marine and a retired police officer. Woods left the force in 2014 in order to advocate openly for national police reform. Together, he and Clark have formed the Veterans Stand For Standing Rock. The two hope to draw scores of veterans, along with fire fighters, ex-law enforcement officers, and others to Standing Rock for their deployment. The purpose, they state, is to “prevent progress on the Dakota Access Pipeline and draw national attention to the human rights warriors of the Sioux tribes.”
Both men state clearly they are ready and willing to take a bullet for a cause that they believe “should be of critical importance to any patriotic American.” And, considering their background, there is no reason to doubt them.
To Wood, this is simply living up to the oath he took in the U.S. Marine Corps.
“This country is repressing our people. If we’re going to be heroes, if we’re really going to be those veterans that this country praises, well, then we need to do the things that we actually said we’re going to do when we took the oath to defend the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic.”
Deployment To Standing Rock Was A Last Resort
Phyllis Young, a Sioux Tribal elder, is the one who got Clark initially involved. Young, who grew up on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, believes the future resides in the fight.
“Mother Earth’s axis is off and it’s never going back. And we have to help keep it in balance for as long as we can. I am a mother and a grandmother. Those are my credentials to ensure a future with clean drinking water — a future of human dignity, human rights, and human survival.”
After hearing of a military veteran making a name for himself as a strong ally for environmental conservation, she approached him. Clark went to work. Yet, much of what he attempted never panned out. He attempted to assemble a legal team for the Standing Rock Reservation inhabitants. He contacted Independent Diplomat, a nonprofit organization that helps governments navigate complex diplomatic processes. But none of it went anywhere.
“I pulled all of the levers, and none of them worked,” Clark said. It was then he decided he’d bring his fellow veterans. Lots of veterans. Veterans who have spent their lives putting themselves in danger for their love of country, to protect their own. And this battle would be no different.
Clark did explain that the plan is to maintain a non-violent presence.
“We’re not going out there to get in a fight with anyone,” Clark Jr. says. “They can feel free to beat us up, but we’re 100% nonviolence.”
Standing Rock ‘Operation Orders’
In fact, in the operations orders the two wrote, under the section titled “Friendly Forces,” it states the following:
“We are there to put our bodies on the line, no matter the physical cost, in complete nonviolence to provide a clear representation to all Americans of where evil resides.”
The document also included a link to a GoFundMe campaign, which has raised nearly $20,000 of its $100,000 goal. The funds will be used solely to help volunteers with transportation costs, and bailing volunteers out of jail, when needed.
The Business Insider fleshes out their plan for the deployment on December 4.
“On Dec. 4, Clark Jr. and Wood Jr., along with a group of veterans and other folks in the ‘bravery business,’ as Wood Jr. puts it — 500 total is the goal, but they’re hoping for more — will muster at Standing Rock. The following morning they will join members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, including Young, for a traditional healing ceremony. With an eye toward the media, old military uniforms will be donned so that if the veterans are brutalized by the police, they are brutalized not as ordinary citizens, but as people who once served the government they are protesting against.
“Then body armor, ear plugs, and gas masks will be issued to those who didn’t bring their own. Bagpipes will play, and traditional Sioux war songs will be sung. The music will continue as everyone marches together to the banks of the Missouri, on the other side of which a line of guards in riot gear will be standing ready with rifles, mace, batons, and dogs. Then, the veterans and their allies — or at least the ones who are brave enough — will lock arms and cross the river in a ‘massive line’ for their ‘first encounter’ with the ‘opposing forces.’”
The ultimate goal, the two veterans say, is to make it to the drilling pad and surround it. To do so, they will have to pass through the line of guards, who have, thus far, been successful in stopping other such attempts – through use of brutal force. But with body armor and gas masks, as well as a cadre of trained veterans, this attempt may be harder to stop.
Wood and Clark are willing to go to whatever lengths it may take.
“We’ll have those people who will recognize that they’re not willing to take a bullet, and those who recognize that they are,” says Wood. “It’s okay if some of them step back, but Wes and I have no intention of doing so.”
“The Joint Chiefs of Staff labeled the climate emergency as the number one security threat to the country, and they’ve been labeling it that for years,” Clark says. “All you need to do is put an overlay on any map in the world where there’s a water and crisis and you’re going to see massive political violence in that location. And unless we act, we’re going to be dealing with that exact same situation right here in the United States.”
To them, this is nothing less than war.