North Dakota authorities have degenerated into behaving like a third world militia. Yesterday 21 unarmed water protectors were arrested at gunpoint during a peaceful prayer protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. I am reporting this off-site, nearly a thousand miles away and relying on accounts from trusted sources on the ground at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, as well as Facebook and local media accounts.
More important that my own comments, here is a plea from the Red Warrior Camp. We have all let our guards down since the Department of Justice put a halt on the DAPL. The people on the ground out there will stand firm and continue to pray, but it is time the rest of us get actively involved and call our federal representatives to protect our brothers and sisters. Prayer should not be met with guns and militarized vehicles.
Today Native ceremonies conducted along the Dakota Access Pipeline route were disrupted by militarized police. We have continued to declare ourselves to be non-violent and unarmed, the police, acting as private security and protectors of the corporations and their nefarious and destructive interests, responded in full force with armored vehicles, shotguns, assault rifles, snipers, helicopters, tear gas, resulting in 21 confirmed arrests. There are also reports coming back that the police were snatching people's phones and other recording devices, deleting pictures and video without permission and in direct violation of North Dakota laws. This response, these actions on the part of the police are clear evidence of the egregious and ongoing escalation of the violations of our Indigenous and Human Rights.
We are constantly fed the narrative that the police are armed and active in the protection of the public. Are we not the public? Are the violations of our rights so easily and repeatedly acceptable? Are you paying attention? The United States of America is occupying Indigenous Land and when their occupation and ruination of our lands and waters is challenged they respond with unprecedented violence, with kidnapping our brothers and sisters protecting us and our territories. They are incarcerating our Warriors, our Women, our Youth. Today's ceremony should never have been interrupted, no arrests should have been made and certainly the military machine should not have been called in in response to our prayers.
I just watched a video click here of a Lakota grandmother telling the story. She had never had a gun pointed at her in her life until yesterday. She described being in a "state of shock" in the aftermath. Someone else wrote that the "Horse Nation held the front line," protecting the women and children. The Valley News reported click here that an officer raised his gun at the horse and rider. Morton County Sheriff, Kyle Kirchmeier, claimed that he was protecting the safety of his citizens.
This is a hollow claim, considering that the combined camps of water protectors, Red Warrior, Sacred Stones and Oceti Sakowin are the 14th largest city in North Dakota. It is hard to imagine whom the Sheriff is "protecting," unless it is the interests of the big oil boys.
History is repeating itself before our eyes as we stand by, wringing our hands, while images of Wounded Knee and that encampment of unarmed women and children come to mind. This is why I am awake in the middle of the night, the darkest hours of the soul, to present this story to you.