Local Vets Heading To Standing Rock< < Back to
ATHENS, Ohio — A group of local veterans are traveling to Standing Rock, North Dakota later this week to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. And they are looking for the community’s help before they leave.
Navy veteran and Athens County resident Katlyn Perie said after seeing the treatment of Sioux Tribe members and others opposed to the oil pipeline’s construction through Native American reservations, she and other former military members across the country were inspired to participate in the “Veterans Stand for Standing Rock” group.
“If a lot of us can go through the things that we have overseas or on deployment, we will make sure that other people who have not signed up for that [do not] have to go through that here – where it’s somewhere that they should feel safe.”
The group from Ohio will meet up with a total of 2,000 veterans, along with others traveling on their own dime, across the country on Saturday to serve, according to the national group’s site, as “human shields” against law enforcement’s efforts to remove people who are against the pipeline. Authorities have used rubber bullets, water cannons, and pepper spray against the demonstrators.
Before leaving, Perie and other volunteers are collecting donations to take with them to North Dakota. High-priority items requests include cold weather gear.
“Right now there’s over a foot of snow on the ground,” Perie said. “So anything that can help keep us warm: propane, batteries, emergency blankets, lighters, that type of stuff.”
The Sioux Tribe invited some of the veterans to stay in a local gymnasium, but a majority of the younger members will be camping near the front lines of the protest with no showers. Camping gear like tents and cold weather sleeping bags, along hygiene products like baby wipes are being requested.
Other items the group is seeking include: vitamin c, cough drops, trash bags for litter control, ibuprofen and tactical equipment like gas masks and armor vests.
The plan for is to make the trip last approximately a week, but the Perie hopes to make their impact last long through the donations.
“Everything that we do not use and that is left over, we are leaving there with the camp for the tribes to use and pass out to the other protesters,” Perie said.
Monetary donations are also being accepted locally and through crowd funding at gofundme.com.
The ability to get supplies to the protesters has been in doubt since North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple on Monday issued a “mandatory evacuation” for the camp by December 3 “to safeguard against harsh winter conditions.” No details have been outlined regarding enforcement against those who fail to comply with the order.
Gov. John Kasich worked with the North Dakota authorities and dispatched 37 Ohio state troopers to the site in late October — they have since returned.
The local community has been supportive thus far, according to Perie. And those in North Dakota have already taken notice.
“They cannot believe that Ohio and, very specifically, Athens County has gotten so much support and supply donations. The Sioux Tribe, and the camps there and the veterans who are already there, they already know about Athens County,” Perie said.
Athens Underground, at 90 North Court Street, is the main local site accepting donations during business hours 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. through Friday.
You can see a detailed list of requested items here (click attachment to enlarge).