Standing Rock update

Written By: - Date published: 3:27 pm, November 3rd, 2016 - 21 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, activism, class war, climate change, colonialism, energy, Environment, human rights, Mining, racism, treaty settlements, water - Tags: , , , , ,

dapl_routes_map_largeIn the past few weeks week there has been a surge of activity in and around the Standing Rock water protector movement, and an explosion of coverage both in the MSM and on social media. I wanted to write a more in-depth post, but so much is happening it’s hard to keep up. Instead here is an update on the recent issues and events.

The militarisation of police is being noted constantly. This isn’t local police making sure that everyone remains safe, it’s an upscaling of local law enforcement to military level, including weapons and vehicles as well as bringing in out of state units and the National Guard. As far as I can tell the National Guard is for emergency situations, and there’s been some stretching of definitions to allow the State to define this as an emergency.

Law enforcement continue to arrest the water protectors in what appears to be intentionally intimidatory ways. Protectors can choose whether to engage in actions likely to lead to arrest or avoid those ones, but police are increasingly targeting the legal protests as well as the civil disobedience ones, and across the board are using inflammatory tactics. There are now multiple reports of breaches of process and probably law by police. These include arresting and charging clearly identified journalists, legal observers and medics, some of whom were also attacked.

Protestors are reporting being arrested on misdemeanour charges and then being stripped searched. One woman talked of being kept naked overnight in a cell, others have told of being made to stand naked in front of male offices. Many were kept in dog kennels with concrete floors. There are reports of water boarding and other violence against arrestees.

It is hard to see these acts as anything other than intentional in their execution. There is the feeling that the acts are designed to not only humiliate but to provoke reactions so that the protestors can then be portrayed as violent, with all the attendant white supremacy mythologising that goes with that – see, crazy, primitive Indians who are really violent when it comes down to it. The problem for the oil protectors is that this is a peaceful protest. People going out to the frontline actions are being trained in non-violence. This doesn’t mean that there are no instances of reaction, feelings are understandably running high, but instead that the ethos of everything that is being done there is peaceful resistance.

The charges are often out of proportion to the actions of the protectors, and the bonds required are costing huge amounts of money. Many of these charges will be disputed and then dropped, but in the meantime the money still has to be put up and the time used to sort it out.

There have been several instances of private security personal trying to provoke violence. At one of the front line protests a woman was pushed into the police line by a man later identified as an infiltrator. One woman tells of being targeted by police for trying to protect women and elders during an action. Also targeted are those trying to de-escalate confrontations.

Earlier in the week a man was stopped while driving fast towards the camp. He abandoned his vehicle and then raised his rifle at the people trying to stop him from getting closer to the camp. He was later arrested by Bureau of Indian Affairs police. One night there was a scrub fire on the hill above the camp. Night time camera gear suggests that this was intentionally lit.

The big action in the past week was the occupation of unceded Treaty 1851 land. One of the roads and a bridge were blockaded to prevent DAPL from progressing. Prayer sites were set up and elders engaged in prayer. This is the equivalent of church and for a country like the US the freedom of religion issues are paramount. Eventually people were pulled from prayer ceremonies and religious tools were impounded, to be then dumped on the ground at the camp a week later.

During the arrests, protestors were maced, tear gassed, shot at with rubber bullets (sometimes at close range), and sound cannoned. Horses were also shot with sub-lethal rounds, some badly enough that they had to be put down. Medics onsite are reporting multiple injuries including broken bones, as well as trauma and shock and increasing rates of triggering of PTSD for people who already have a history of being attacked violently.

Just prior to this time the FAA imposed an 11 day no fly ban over the area, which meant that the protectors were unable to use drones to film the police actions or anything that DAPL were up to. This ban has now been lifted due to legal action by the tribes, but again the tactic here is to delay and tie up resources and use the black out timing.

Despite all this, people are reporting more than the contention. Spirits have lifted this week and the number of people at camp has doubled. Women are talking about the positive impact on their children of living in traditional community and being part of something critically important to their tribes.

Out in the world things are starting to move too. The UN are now investigating human rights abuses, and Amnesty International are sending in observers. Berine Sanders wrote an open letter to President Obama asking that he finally take action (not unreasonable given Obama’s assurances to Native peoples 7 years ago).

This week a viral campaign on Facebook involved 1.5 million people over several days, and there have been multiple instances of infrastructure being shut down by solidarity protestors elsewhere in North America.

Here in Aotearoa/Te Wai Pounamu, Māori have been active on Facebook, including the Haka with Standing Rock group, and groups including E Tū with Standing Rock are raising funds to send support teams to the protection sites. Māori MPs have come out this week in support of Standing Rock and calling on the NZ government to do the same. Action Station are campaigning on City Bank’s involvement in DAPL, direct message via Action Station’s site here.

 

 

21 comments on “Standing Rock update”

  1. Siobhan 1

    Obama, man of action and principle that he is, plans to ” let it play out for several more weeks “.

    “Obama said: “It’s a challenging situation. I think that my general rule when I talk to governors and state and local officials whenever they’re dealing with protests, including for example during the Black Lives Matters protests, is there’s an obligation for protesters to be peaceful and there’s an obligation for authorities to show restraint.”

    I hate to think what needs to happen before Obama draws a line in the sand and actually makes a stand. And then there Hillary Clinton the Progressive….

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/02/dakota-access-obama-suggests-ways-to-reroute-pipeline-being-investigated

    http://thefreethoughtproject.com/hillary-turns-back-standing-rock-sioux-path-forward-must-serve-broadest-public-interest/

  2. Left_forward 2

    Thank you Weka for keeping us up to date on this deplorable situation.
    Kennedy Warne’s recent article in the NZ Geographic brilliantly documents Godzone’s own version that we still haven’t fully recognised.

    https://www.nzgeo.com/stories/parihaka/

    • weka 2.1

      Thanks for that! Half way through. The comparisons with Gandhi and what we should know are pertinent and troubling. Looking at the photos of today’s action at Standing Rock, and hearing some native perspective on the young men and women who just keep going back out there despite what is happening, I was reminded of the portrayal in the Gandhi film where the people line up to protest, get clubbed down, and more step up. There is something also about the juxtaposition of peaceful resistance and the reactionary forces needing to keep increasing their violence as they find that it becomes less and less effective.

  3. weka 3

    Today many of our protectors tried to cross the river to pray on top of a hill where Oceti Sakowin ancestors are buried, this place has been desecrated by the police and DAPL. The militarized police responded with brutal force, a young man was shot point blank with a rubber bullet and has been coughing up blood, another woman was shot by one of heavily armed officers on a boat. Many of our people tried crossing the river after police destroyed our makeshift bridge, some of them are in critical condition after they were gassed and maced by police and went into shock from the freezing cold waters. Other brave people kept going back by boat to rescue those that were struggling in the cold water but police in their own boat attempted to stop them. These are WAR CRIMES, we are unarmed we are peaceful, no one even lifted a finger against these cops today. I am disgusted by the state of North Dakota and by this country that continues to perpetuate its genocide against Indigenous Peoples’.

    Photos at https://www.facebook.com/conor.handley.5/posts/10205833423029893

  4. joe90 4

    The shit these people are up against.

    That is why I refuse to chalk racism up to plain "ignorance": it is methodical and predictable and calculated and spiteful and vicious.— Zoé Samudzi (@ztsamudzi) October 31, 2016

    [CN: anti-indigenous racism]In case you're not sure what I'm referring to, I'm talking about this racist shit. pic.twitter.com/k3E5UmumPt— Zoé Samudzi (@ztsamudzi) October 31, 2016

    • weka 4.1

      I think the one on the right would go over many people’s heads. The one about the godda job is blatant as fuck though.

      • joe90 4.1.1

        Yup.

        In a 2005 interview, Cecilia Fire Thunder, the first female president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, noted, “[Sixty-eight] percent of the college graduates on the reservation are women. Seventy percent of the jobs are held by women. Over 90 percent of the jobs in our schools are held by women.”[59]

        As of 2011, population estimates of the reservation range from 28,000 to 40,000.
        Numerous enrolled members of the tribe live off the reservation.[60]

        80% of residents are unemployed;

        49% of the residents live below the Federal poverty level (including 61% of all those under the age of 18);

        Per capita income in Oglala Lakota County is $6,286;

        The infant mortality rate is 5 times higher than the national average;

        Native American amputation rates due to diabetes is 3 to 4 times higher than the national average;

        Death rate due to diabetes is 3 times higher than the national average; and
        Life expectancy in 2007 was estimated to be 48 for males and 52 for females.[61]

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine_Ridge_Indian_Reservation#Demographics

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    The collapse of modern society continues apace.

    • Michelle 5.1

      Modern society is collapsing as we now have a gluten of poor leadership globally and we have very divisive leaders look at our PM he is of the same ilk

  6. Kia ora Weka, thanks for your write up. Have been following the action for a while, but had missed a number of the events you’ve mentioned here. Was privileged to stand with the people of Parihaka last weekend and tautoko Standing Rock before the memorial of Te Whiti.

    It doesn’t make the news, but there is a constant struggle at Parihaka to protect their lands and awa from gas companies, let alone have the land which was stolen from them returned. Easy to forget the same shit happened here, and still is happening here too. The struggle at Standing Rock is the frontline of a struggle for indigenous rights worldwide.

    • weka 6.1

      Beautiful, thanks Alethios. These days I am acutely aware of the depth of my ignorance about the situations here.

  7. mauī 7

    Excellent job on collating the goings on Weka, stuff is changing there everyday, it’s crazy. I didn’t know about the positive developments either, that’s good to hear, they seem to be supressed by the flow of bad news coming out.

    • weka 7.1

      I dithered a bit in writing this because there are good things happening, but it seemed important to get out just how bad the state response is.

  8. esoteric pineapples 8

    “In a country like the US the freedom of religion issues are paramount.” – except when it comes to Native Americans.

    • weka 8.1

      Exactly. I’ve been trying to think of how to explain this*, especially in a left wing political scene that includes a large number of people who are actively against religion. Might see if I can do a post on this and the intersection with ethnicity and indigenous rights.

      * as in, imagine your parents going to church on Sunday and the local police being armed and called in to drag them out in the middle of the service, arrest them, strip search them, keep them in a dog pound, and then the altar, cross, communion cup and lecturn being dropped into a skip with a bunch of other stuff and dumped on their front lawn a week later. Even then, I’m not sure this comes close, because there’s still the issue of centuries of attempted eradication.

  9. adam 9

    I see the bank which lied about our economy, is one of the backers of the pipe line.

    These corporate’s, same pile of rotten fish guts – different country.

    Here the thing, when racism and the rights of indigenous people are continually trampled on by corporate culture, don’t you think it’s time to give up trying to reform corporate culture, and we the people should stand up and remove the corporations from the world?

  10. Thanks weka. I have so enjoyed going virtually to Standing Rock on fbook. The other day a friend said, “Wow so many of my friends liking or visiting Standing Rock, I wish we could all meet there in real life”.

    The people are stirring…

  11. Takere 12

    And the irony is this with an iwi here who’re mislead by a self appointed leader to be a show pony for the world to see.
    An indigenous culture on one side of the world supporting the oppressor the US War Machine who’re occupying with brutality and are preventing American Natives access to their own whenua!
    …. Ngati Paoa is participating, unfortunately.
    The waka Kotuiti 2 is escorting the USS Sampson War machine into the Waitemata with the NZ Navy.
    Posted on the NP iwi Trust FaceBook page.
    Lead by Hau (Eugene) Rawiri self proclaimed Atua of Ngati Paoa.
    Contact number; 021893833

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