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In the past several months, the world has been horrified by the behavior of the police towards peaceful protestors at Standing Rock in North Dakota. The protestors, a combination of Native Americans and environmental activists, have been subjected to an unceasing barrage of unwarranted violence at the hands of law enforcement. Protestors have been beaten, gassed, sprayed with mace, tasered and shot with rubber bullets. Headlines were made last year as a journalist was so badly injured in an unprovoked attack by police that she required reconstructive surgery.
Law enforcement plant missile launcher at Standing Rock
Despite pleas from the general public for the police to de-escalate this increasingly terrifying stand-off, it appears that law enforcement has no intention of heeding these calls. In fact, the evidence suggests that they are prepared to elevate the violence to a whole other level.
Jon Zeigler has been reporting from Standing Rock since last year. On Monday, he along with several protestors attempted to climb a hill guarding the DAPL drill pad. The protestors who climbed up on the east side of the hill were met by the police where there was reportedly a series of violent incidents with many protestors being subject to pepper spray. However, Zeigler and some other individuals made it to the top of the hill by climbing the west side. There they discovered something deeply disturbing – an Avenger AN/TWQ-1 Air Defense System.
The Avenger AN/TWQ-1 Air Defense System is a missile mounted system which is used for mobile, short-range air defense protection for ground units. It is intended to be used against cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles (drone planes), low flying fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. The missile launch has been equipped with a “high energy laser weapon” which can be used to neutralize smaller drones. It can also neutralize unexploded bombs from a safe distance.
Naturally, the protestors at Standing Rock are deeply concerned about this latest revelation. There is a general sense that the police have been attempting to provoke uncontrollable violence from the protesters as a pretext to dispersing them altogether. However, for the most part, the protestors at Standing Rock have been the victims of violence rather than the aggressors. They have certainly not carried out any acts that would suggest that military grade weapons were necessary to control them. Therefore the discovery of the missile launcher has led to suspicions that the police intended to fake a bomb report as a pretext to using the missile launcher and thereby to create a seemingly viable justification for permanently dispersing the camp. If this is true the discovery of the missile launcher will have surely put a damper on their plans.
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