However, it was only on Nov. 21 that the issue of police brutality against DAPL activists grabbed headlines, after law enforcement used tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and at least one water cannon on water protectors at the Blackwater bridge in below-freezing temperatures.
That night, water protector Vanessa Dundon got shot in the leg by a rubber bullet and her face got hit by tear gas canister.
Dundon was later taken to a hospital where she received stitches in her eye. She was soon released because, according to a GoFundMe page set up for her, she doesn’t have insurance.
Doctors have told her that her retina is most likely detached and she needs surgery.
“Dr. Baggins told me the trauma to my eye will likely affect my vision for the rest of my life and it is unclear at this time if I will be able to see out of my right eye again,” she told The Intercept after consulting a specialist in Plymouth, Minnesota.
Dundon may not be able to regain sight in her right eye, according to the Daily Beast. She has filed a lawsuit in federal court over police violence.
Before Dundon, another DAPL activist, Sophia Wilansky, was severely injured after a concussion grenade hit her as she passed water bottles to other demonstrators. She was treated for the injury but she may lose her arm.
The anti-DAPL movement started in April as a protest against the $3.7 billion huge oil pipeline that has prompted legitimate concerns regarding the possible pollution of the waterways, which could affect the local Native American tribal community, including the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.
However, over the past few months, anti-DAPL protests have also become a much bigger and broader struggle for fundamental human rights for Native Americans over the past couple of months.
And it’s reportedly going to get even more intense, now that the federal government has ordered all DAPL activists to evacuate the encampment site near the pipeline.
"Our tribe is deeply disappointed in this decision by the United States, but our resolve to protect our water is stronger than ever," declared Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault in response to the government’s eviction order.