GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Thousands of Dakota Access Pipeline protestors are being asked evacuate, immediately. The North Dakota Governor says winter weather could be dangerous. But a Kentwood man that has been living at the camp for the last month, says the conditions are already dangerous.
"We've been picking up people that have had rubber bullets to the head," Lee Sprague said. "We've had numerous people that have been tear-gassed, badly." Lee decided to take part in the protest for the bigger picture. "This is really an existential threat to not just Indian people but to all of us."
But he says what he's seen since he's arrived, is cruel.
"In my opinion, shooting water cannons at people in sub-freezing temperatures for hours is inhumane, not anything any human being should be a party to," he said. But the member of a Gun Lake Tribe tells us despite danger the support is still strong. "Well, there's a lot of love here. We're supporting each other, we know that we're in difficult times."
According to the pipeline developers, the project would increase the country's energy independence. Developers say it would improve overall safety to the public and environment by reducing crude oil shipped by truck and by rail.
Earlier this week, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers set a Dec. 5, deadline to leave the encampment.
In the past, the agency said it would not evict protesters due to free speech reasons, but the most recent letter cites safety concerns.
"That pipeline needs to be removed and the U.S policy of going after energy on or near Indian reservations needs to stop," he said. "At the end of the day the people that are in uniforms on the top of the hill, they want the same things we want, for their children. They want clean water, but we just can't agree what we're going to do today."
Earlier this month, President Barak Obama raised the possibility of rerouting the pipeline. But Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, told the Associated Press they have no alternative than to stick to the plan.
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