Stop Using Water Cannons Against Protesters In Below Freezing Temperatures

Target: North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple

Goal: End use of water cannons against protesters in below freezing temperatures and remove the barricade from the Backwater Bridge.

At Standing Rock, hundreds of protesters and water protectors demonstrating in below freezing temperatures against the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline faced tear gas, percussion grenades, sound cannons, rubber bullets, and water cannons. Approximately 167 people have been injured and hundreds more are reportedly trapped on a nearby bridge. Law enforcement officials claim that they fired tear gas after protesters threw rocks and deployed water cannons to douse fires. However, protesters have stated that they lit the fires to warm people who had been soaked by water cannons in sub-freezing temperatures. Footage live-streamed by UnicornRiot appears to support the protesters’ accounts of events.

Medical professionals on the scene have voiced fears that the use of water cannons in cold weather could result in severe hypothermia. There have been multiple reports alleging law enforcement firing tear gas seemingly indiscriminately into the crowds of protesters. The confrontation began in the evening when protesters tried to clear two burnt trucks that formed a barricade across a bridge, blocking the direct route between the Standing Rock Reservation and Bismarck, North Dakota. Protesters claim that law enforcement began to deploy teargas and water cannons after one of the protesters successfully moved one of the trucks.

Sign our petition and demand that law enforcement halts the use of water cannons in sub-freezing temperatures and remove the barricade from the Backwater Bridge to allow easy access to both journalists and medical services.


Dear Governor Dalrymple,

I was disturbed to hear reports alleging the indiscriminate and unprovoked use of teargas and water cannons against Standing Rock protesters attempting to clear the barricade across the Backwater Bridge. As temperatures drop below freezing, the use of water cannons presents a serious threat to the health of protesters especially given that the blockage of the Backwater Bridge blocks the most direct access route for medical services. More than 165 people have been injured and many protesters report suffering from hypothermia, a condition that can be fatal.

While law enforcement officials have stated that they deployed water cannons in response to protesters lighting fires, live-streamed footage shot by UnicornRiot seems to directly contradict their claims, showing protesters lighting fires after law enforcement deployed water cannons. I urge you to order law enforcement to stop deploying water cannons in sub-freezing temperatures as these weapons are both indiscriminate and inappropriate in these conditions. Furthermore, I urge you to open the Backwater Bridge to allow both journalists and medical professionals better access to protest camps.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Nati Harnik

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