In a lengthy Facebook post, the Canadian musician and his girlfriend, the actress Daryl Hannah, called on the current president to “step in and end the violence against the peaceful water protectors at Standing Rock immediately”.
Thousands have joined the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in their legal battle against the construction of the North Dakota access pipeline which would carry oil through North and South Dakota to a shipping point in Illinois. The tribe claim the pipe will disturb sacred, native sites and could pollute the drinking water for more than 8,000 tribal members. The company behind the pipeline, which some reports suggest is almost complete, has reportedly said it has taken measures to protect leaks and that pipelines are a largely safe way to transport oil.
The protest has grown in recent weeks as has tensions between the demonstrators and police manning the site. Last week, it was reported at least 17 people were taken to hospital after being sprayed with tear gas and shot with rubber bullets by officers in freezing temperatures.
Young, who spent his 71st birthday on the site performing for demonstrators earlier this month, described his visit in the Facebook post.
“We arrived at this unprecedented historical gathering of over 500 tribes and thousands of others standing on the frontline to protect water, to state the most basic human truth, to say water is life. Despite the painful history, today they fight peacefully for us all,” he wrote.
The 71-year-old and Hannah also spoke of the “eager and engaged youth at the core of this pipeline route resistance, learning from a population of elders who pass down unforgotten knowledge” and said all the demonstrators they encountered were “committed to peaceful resistance. Weapons, alcohol and drugs are forbidden there.”
He then turned his attention to the violence which has escalated at the site: “They stand against corporate security forces, the county sheriff and the national guard. Standing while being hit with water cannons, mace, teargas, rubber bullets. Standing without weapons and praying, the water protectors endure human rights abuses in freezing temperatures."
Young concluded by saying he will be visiting the camp again and rallied support for the demonstrators labelling the protest “our moment for truth”.
“Unintimidated, stand, speak up and show up. Be counted. Be like our brothers and sisters at Standing Rock. Be there if you can. The progress we have made over 240 years as a nation, has always come first from the people.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies