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Some Standing Rock veterans are ready to take their water fight to Flint, Michigan



WATCH  | Veterans joining protesters at the Standing Rock oil pipeline demonstration speak about the importance of access to clean water.

Still no access to clean water in Flint

They defended the United States -- now they want to defend the water.

Some of the thousands of veterans at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest at Standing Rock say they want to take the fight for clean water from North Dakota to Flint, Michigan.

Michigan’s water was publicly declared undrinkable and more than two years since high levels of lead were first detected, and some residents say they still don’t have clean drinking water.

The water defenders

Rob McHaney, a retired Navy diver, says that the weekend announcement the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers halted work on a key part of the controversial Dakota Access pipeline was a small victory in a larger fight.

“I feel we won the battle, but I believe that we’re going to fighting a war for a long time over this kind of thing.  And we have children in Flint, Michigan who can’t even take a clean bath. We got a problem.”

We have children in Flint, Michigan who can't even take a clean bath. We got a problem.
Rob McHaney, retired Navy diver

McHaney was one of the estimated 4,500 veterans organized to stand in solidarity at Standing Rock by Wesley Clark Jr., son of retired U.S. Army general and former NATO Supreme Commander Wesley Clark, Sr.

Clark, Jr., who is himself a retired Army officer, reportedly confirmed he’s mobilizing more protests. 

Faith Spotted Eagle speaks at a forgiveness ceremony at the Standing Rock casino

WATCH  | "We don't know when we are going to be there but we will be heading to Flint," Clark told the Flint Journal. 

“This problem is all over the country. It's got to be more than veterans. People have been treated wrong in this country for a long time.”

'Water is life'

The ongoing water crisis in Flint was mentioned by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), who was present at the Standing Rock protests.  

“Water is life; we cannot survive without it,” Gabbard said in a statement. 

"We must act now to protect our precious water for current and future generations to come.”

Giving thanks

While in North Dakota, the group of veterans led by Clark, Jr., also begged forgiveness for war crimes committed against Native Americans in an emotional ceremony.

Chief Leonard Crow Dog, the Lakota Hunkpapa Tribe spiritual leader, and Sioux spokeswoman Phyllis Young thanked the veterans for standing with them in solidarity.

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