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Standing Rock Protest: Powerful Image Goes Viral After Police Violence

11/03/2016 04:26 EDT | Updated 01/05/2017 05:04 EST

Lindsey Norton has been at the Oceti Sakowin Camp near Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota since August 20. She joined the Sioux tribe and hundreds of others to protest a pipeline that they fear will harm sacred lands, burial grounds and the Missouri River.

"This is my home now and I'm not going anywhere," Norton said during a Facebook live video she recorded on her page on Thursday morning. She was filming a Christian group singing and praying. She had to apologize for an intermittent cough, the result of police pepper spray.

"We will never stop fighting for this earth," she says calmly.

On Wednesday, Norton captured an image that has gone viral. It's a stunning photo of a little girl, standing on the North Dakota plains, holding a mirror. With more than 6,500 shares, the image has gone viral in less than 24 hours.


"Her name is Sam. She was on the other side of the river from where law enforcement came to attack the people praying," Norton explained to Huffington Post Canada.

"She used her strong little voice and called out 'look at yourselves, you won't even talk to us, you should be ashamed.' I took the image because of her voice ringing out and her strength gave all of us strength to continue on against Goliath."

Norton is referring to authorities, who have taken position nearby, moving in with riot gear and pepper spray on Wednesday. They also shot at protestors with rubber bullets.

Norton cryptically posted on Facebook that morning: "It's a beautiful day and here comes the tear gas."

In a press release, the local sheriff's department claimed this action was taken "to disperse the group of protesters who came across the water and camp at officers."

However, eye witnesses have a different story. "There was absolutely no provocation of any kind," film director Josh Fox told NBC News. "The police pepper sprayed people sitting in the water."


Norton says it was this police action that caused Sam to get the mirror. "She is a young child and witnessed her relatives being shot at, pepper sprayed and threatened for praying. She stopped playing and bravely confronted the police in the best way that she could."

Her courage didn't go unnoticed. "Thank you little sister!" commented one Facebook user.

"This image represents that it's all ages who need water," wrote another. "I wish people would see that. Water is for everyone and everything! Stay strong and stay safe."

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