“This weekend we went to go demonstrate with peaceful action. We went to go pray,” Grassrope said. “Then while we were praying, the cops came and told us we couldn’t be there. We were just standing there and then this police officer came and opened up with some pepper spray. We weren’t antagonizing them or anything, we were just praying.”
Grassrope said he was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing and engaging in a riot, and was held for six hours before a group of friends paid his bail. Grassrope has not yet entered a plea.
“I don’t understand why it was a riot, the police were in riot gear we were just praying,” Grassrope added.
Grassrope said he has been living on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation for the past five years. His mother is Standing Rock Sioux and his father is Lower Brule Sioux.
“We’re not going to be silent anymore,” Grassrope said. “We are not going to be pushed in a box anymore, our people have been oppressed enough.”
Hushka, the public information officer for the Morton County Sheriff’s Office, confirmed to ABC News that protesters including Grassrope had been arrested and charged with engaging in a riot and criminal trespassing, both class B misdemeanors. Hushka said there were about 300 protesters who trespassed onto private property, but the sheriff’s office was not disclosing the number of law enforcement that were at the scene.
“Protesters attempted to breach the police line and did not follow the officers’ instructions,” Hushka said. “Officers did utilize pepper spray, to protect police officers.”
“There are no issues if they want to protest peacefully and legally, but on numerous occasions they have engaged in illegal action by trespassing on private property,” Hushka added.