US military veterans build shelters for Dakota Access pipeline protesters as the Justice Department vows to protect them

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Trek Kelly of Venice Beach, California, stands with veterans who oppose the Dakota Access oil pipeline on Backwater Bridge near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S., December 2, 2016.
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Terray Sylvester/Reuters

US military veterans were building shelters for North Dakota pipeline protesters this week as the Justice Department reaffirmed its commitment to the demonstrators’ First Amendment rights and to their safety on Friday.

Protesters have been occupying land near the site of the multibillion-dollar Dakota Access pipeline project for months. As winter begins to set in, authorities have begun warning protesters that they need to leave.

The demonstrators said they’re not going anywhere.

More than 2,000 US veterans arrived at the Oceti Sakowin camp in North Dakota on Thursday, and have volunteered to form human shields to protect pipeline activists from police.

The protesters also received a nod from US Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Friday, who said “we remain in close communication with law enforcement officials, tribal representatives, and protesters in an effort to reduce tensions and foster dialogue.”

Lynch announced that mediators were being sent to the site “to help support constitutional law enforcement, prevent violence, and to preserve peace and liberty in the protest area.”

Here are some photos of US veterans lending a hand to protesters.


Veterans, who signed up on the Veterans Stand for Standing Rock group’s Facebook page, are joining protesters who are determined to protect the sacred land from the Dakota Access pipeline project.

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Scott Olson/Getty Images

Source: Reuters


Members of the Oglala Lakota tribe build a tipi inside the Oceti Sakowin camp.

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Lucas Jackson/Reuters

State officials on Monday issued an emergency order to evacuate the snowy camp, but later said it will not enforce the decision.

Source: Reuters


Activists deliver straw to be used for insulation at Oceti Sakowin Camp.

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Scott Olson/Getty Images

Potentially 3,500 veterans would join the protest and demonstration, according to Wesley Clark Jr, a writer whose father is retired US Army General Wesley Clark, in a meeting with law enforcement on Friday.

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Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Source: Reuters


Cannon Ball, North Dakota, is freezing cold these days. The temperature is expected to drop to 4 degrees Fahrenheit by the middle of next week,

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Scott Olson/Getty Images

Source: Reuters


Protesters from different parts of country are building barracks together.

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Scott Olson/Getty Images

Children ride sleds down a hill inside of the Oceti Sakowin camp.

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Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Military veterans stand on Backwater Bridge during the protest.


Some military veterans in North Dakota disagree with the 2,000 veterans joining the fray.


Trek Kelly of Venice Beach, California, stands with veterans.

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Terray Sylvester/Reuters

Korean War veteran George Martin, 80, an Ojibwe tribe from Hopkins, Michigan, stands with veterans.

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Terray Sylvester/Reuters

Tulsi Gabbard, a combat veteran and US representative from Hawaii, has said she will join thousands of fellow veterans on Sunday.

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Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Source: Reuters


“I figured this was more important than anything else I could be doing,” said a Vietnam War Army veteran who joined the protesters.

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Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Source: Reuters


Night falls on Oceti Sakowin Camp.

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Scott Olson/Getty Images

People stand outside a dome used as a community center and sleeping area.