Even locals have packed their bags to counter the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), as a group of veterans did Saturday to stand alongside water protectors who had been peacefully protesting the final segment of the controversial project.
Benny Lumpkins Jr., the group’s regional transportation lead for Nevada and Idaho, says he was motivated to join the national Veterans for Standing Rock movement at the Sioux Standing Rock Reservation when he first discovered the pipeline was threatening sacred ground. “Native Americans have been treated like subhumans since before the white man came to America,” he said. “For us to physically see the abuse on social media when [the protesters] were being nonviolent, [that] got me motivated as a veteran to defend the oath that we take when we sign up [for the armed forces]. It’s super-important for me to go and be the cavalry for my ancestors and my family.”
Lumpkins led 20 veterans from the two states, including fellow Las Vegan Matthew LaRance. “It felt like we accomplished our mission … and supported our brothers and sisters in exercising their rights,” LaRance said in a Facebook message. “We showed our presence to uphold the oath of protecting our nation from enemies, foreign and domestic.”
As of Sunday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it would not grant Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline, the permit to drill at Standing Rock. But LaRance says the fight isn’t over. According to a statement released by ETP on Sunday, the company is “fully committed to ensuring” that the pipeline “is brought to completion … without any additional rerouting.”