'Winter is coming' in North Dakota but as over 2000 veterans arrive to provide a human shield for the 'water protestors', president-elect Donald Trump said for the first time that he supports completion of the pipeline project near a North Dakota Indian reservation. Reassuringly his team confirmed that his support "has nothing to do with his personal investments" in Energy Transfer Partners - the company building the pipeline.
Matthew Crane, a 32-year-old Navy veteran who arrived three days ago, said the veterans joining the protest were "standing on the shoulders of Martin Luther King Jr and Gandhi" with the their plans to shield protesters.
"I bought a one-way ticket," he told Reuters as he worked to build a wooden shelter at the main camp. "Hopefully we can shut this down before Christmas."
However, not all veterans were supportive of these actions...
Several members of the North Dakota Veterans Coordinating Council, which represents five veterans organizations in the state, held a news conference to decry the involvement of veterans in a protest that has damaged property and asked veterans not to participate in the demonstration.
"We agree that it is our constitutional right to assemble and to peacefully protest," council President Russ Stabler told reporters at the West Fargo VFW Post 7564 building. "However, protests over the last 100-plus days in North Dakota have been less than peaceful.
"Participating in this kind of assembly even as a peaceful bystander or participant will only mar the image of the North Dakota veterans and the veterans of our nation," he added as he stood surrounded by about a dozen veterans from the region.
Additionally, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple on Wednesday told reporters it was "probably not feasible" to reroute the pipeline, but he would try to rebuild a relationship with Standing Rock Sioux leaders, and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday said for the first time that he supports the completion of the pipeline, and as Reuters noted, Trump's transition team also said Trump supported peaceful protests.
"We respect all Americans’ first amendment right to peacefully protest, and we hope that local and federal officials continue to give support to local law enforcement so they are able to continue to protect these protesters," said the Trump transition team's daily note sent to campaign supporters and congressional staff.
But, a communications briefing from Trump's transition team said despite media reports that Trump owns a stake in Energy Transfer Partners (ETP.N), the company building the pipeline...
Trump's support of the pipeline "has nothing to do with his personal investments and everything to do with promoting policies that benefit all Americans."
"Those making such a claim are only attempting to distract from the fact that President-elect Trump has put forth serious policy proposals he plans to set in motion on Day One," said the daily briefing note sent to campaign supporters and congressional staff.
Republican North Dakota Senator John Hoeven said he met with Trump's transition team to discuss the delayed pipeline.
"Today, Mr. Trump expressed his support for the Dakota Access Pipeline, which has met or exceeded all environmental standards set forth by four states and the Army Corps of Engineers," Hoeven said in a statement.