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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/10/16

Green Party Candidates Face Arrest: An Interview With Green Party VP Candidate Ajamu Baraka

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The Green Party's candidates for president and vice president of the United States, Dr. Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka, traveled to North Dakota to express their support for those attempting to close down the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The Green Party's candidates for president and vice president of the United States, Dr. Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka, traveled to North Dakota to express their support for those attempting to close down the Dakota Access Pipeline.
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The latest twist in the 2016 presidential campaign comes with the issuing of warrants for the arrest of the presidential and vice presidential candidates running on the Green Party ticket, Dr. Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka. Baraka was notified on Wednesday. Stein had been notified on Tuesday. According to an extended radio interview on Pacifica Radio's Flashpoints show on Wednesday, only hours after he had been notified by authorities, Mr. Baraka told host Dennis Bernstein that they were being charged regarding their trip over the weekend to Standing Rock, North Dakota, to stand with the indigenous tribes resisting the oil pipeline expansion through sacred native burial grounds.

Dennis Bernstein: Welcome back to Flashpoints, Ajamu Baraka. You were, in fact, at Standing Rock. You have indicated you had the strongest desire to stand by the indigenous communities. Could you explain why you feel so strongly about this issue?

Ajamu Baraka: We traveled to the site to stand in solidarity with the people, the indigenous resisters there. We had a chance to communicate with folks and break bread with people for a couple of days. We went out to the front line sites to be in solidarity with the folks. We addressed the people and they were very happy that we were, in fact, there. In the process, there were comments being written on the machines the people had commandeered.

And so, as an act of solidarity, we also added our comments to that process. But because we are being surveilled and those images were communicated around the world, the local authorities thought that it would be a proper and good thing to then levy charges against us for criminal trespassing and vandalism. Which is interesting because all of the crimes that we witnessed, and many of your listeners witnessed, in terms of the images we saw coming from those sites, protestors are being attacked with dogs, and all of that. They would then spend their times, resources, and energy in attempting to intimidate us with flimsy charges.

DB: So have you been served by the police? How do you know they are seeking you and Jill Stein?

Baraka: We haven't been officially served. But we were notified that those charges were pending. They charged Jill yesterday, and then they added me today. It's been reported in the local press there that the Morgan County Sheriff's Office is indicating that they were going to levy charges against us, and that arrest warrants had, in fact, been issued.

DB: So is this ... do we know if this is the first time in the history of the United States that a presidential and vice presidential candidate have been served with a warrant while they were running for office? I guess Hillary and all those e-mails, and all that stuff ... well, nothing there.

Baraka: No charges. We get charged.

DB: You stepped over a certain line when you wrote on the side of a company truck in protest of their attacks on the sacred burial grounds, including using trained attack dogs against peaceful protesters. What did you write on the truck?

Baraka: I said that what we needed in North Dakota was authentic decolonization.

DB: Authentic decolonization.

Baraka: That's what I wrote.

DB: And what does that mean to you? Obviously, they didn't like it.

Baraka: Well, it means that basically the issues that are facing the indigenous people are issues that are a reality because indigenous people don't have full control over their sovereignty, the sovereignty over their land that they originally owned. That this company has trampled on ancestral land, threatening water that they [indigenous peoples] are the protectors of. They have trampled on burial grounds, and the only recourse that the indigenous appear to have is to make appeals to the U.S. authorities and to put their bodies on the line, to try to stop this. Now, if there were not a settler occupation, then they wouldn't have those kinds of issues. So, you know, if there's going to be real social justice here in this place we call the United States of America, then we have to address this issue of the rights of indigenous ... the issue of sovereignty and self-determination. And that means that we have to have a process of authentic decolonization. We're not going to have social justice as long as there's continuity in this settler colonial project. And that's a very difficult conversation, because all of us are implicated -- those of us who came voluntarily, our ancestors, and involuntarily. We have to have a conversation about what it really means to have a decolonized United States of America.

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Dennis J Bernstein is the host and executive producer of Flashpoints, a daily news magazine broadcast on Pacifica Radio. He is an award-winning investigative reporter, essayist and poet. His articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Nation, and (more...)

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