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Veterans Offer Relief To Protesters Of Dakota Access Pipeline

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Veterans from around this country will descend on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation this weekend. That's the site of protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Protesters say the pipeline will destroy sacred sites and threaten their water. The group called Veterans Stand for Standing Rock says vets will stand between protesters and authorities, working to clear them out of the way.

JADE EMILIO SNELL: Every veteran, we take an oath to defend the Constitution and its enemies, foreign or domestic.

INSKEEP: Jade Emilio Snell is packing his bags for North Dakota. He's a disabled vet who says he has native heritage and served in the Marine Corps.

SNELL: As a veteran, I'm going there to protect the American people. As a native, I'm going there because the violation of treaties. This is coming to a head where all the tribes of the nation are starting to gather. And we're saying as one, you know, enough is enough.

INSKEEP: Other veterans promising to protect protesters include Angie Secrest of Yukon, Okla. She was a medic in the Army and has been rummaging through her old footlocker for supplies.

ANGIE SECREST: And I have things from needles and tubing wire to start IVs, splints for injuries. And we're concerned about hypothermia, of course, so we've got thermal blankets. And we want to make sure nobody goes into shock.

INSKEEP: She's thinking about video she's seen of protesters sprayed with water hoses in freezing temperatures.

SECREST: You look at it, and it looks like a war zone. And we just want to support the tribe. We want them to know that, though they may be feeling like they're left out there alone, they're not.

INSKEEP: Jade Emilio Snell says he's scared. His friend in the National Guard told him he's being deployed to the protest sites in response to the activists.

SNELL: He says, but I never thought in my wildest dreams I would be on opposite side of the lines. I said, me either, you know - maybe next to you, but never staring at you. I hope he's not one of the ones in front of me.

INSKEEP: That's one of the veterans heading for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.