I don’t know if any of you have been following the Dakota Access Pipeline story, but here is the story in a tiny little nutshell. Energy Transfer Partners is building a pipeline that will extend thousands of miles across the U.S. The problem is that these pipelines have a long history of leaking and exploding, and then, of course destroying the environment. (I will be leaving links to news stories that prove this point at the bottom of this post.) In this case, the pipeline is being built extremely close to a river, with the potential (and given the history of these pipelines) the distinct probability of polluting the river and groundwater. As a matter of fact, the pipeline was moved from close proximity to the town of Bismarck to where is being built now, due the environmental fears of the mostly white citizens of Bismarck.
Oil pipeline spills since 2010
What I really want to discuss today is that since the Native Americans have begun peacefully protesting, the reactions by both Energy Transfer Partners and the police have been excessive in their use of force, criminalization of peaceful actions, and cruel in their treatment of arrested protesters. While I often listen to NPR, I have been disappointed by their reporting of this, since they do indeed take money from the oil industry (Constellation Energy Group, Vanguard Group, and CITGO Petroleum Corporation) are just a few of these donators. Therefore, coverage of this story has been spotty at best. But, I’ve also noticed that there has been little in the way of coverage in the largest newspaper in my state. I can only assume that not that many television stations have been covering the story either, however I can’t say that for a fact, since I don’t have cable.
Tonya Sands after being pepper sprayed for swimming across a creek to gain access to Indian Land.
The one news source that has been on the ground since the first days of this story is Democracy Now, and they have been stellar in their reporting. I don’t know if any of you have been looking at some of the videos that have gone viral, but if you have, I hope that you are worried for your own safety as well as the safety of the protesters. If peaceful protesters are being assaulted with various weapons such as pepper spray, tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets and sonic devices what does this say about our ability as citizens to peacefully protest? Energy Transfer Partners have also used dogs to bite the protesters.
If these actions aren’t worrisome for you as citizens of the U.S., maybe being arrested, stripped and kept nude overnight might be. Or, if not that, perhaps having numbers written on your arm (reminiscent of an infamous Nazi regime), and kept overnight in a dog kennel after being arrested for peaceful protest might be a little disconcerting.
This behavior by police and corporate-backed security is unsettling. In the U.S., we not only have a right to protest, but our constitution requires us to do so. https://www.loc.gov/law/help/peaceful-assembly/us.php
If you want to look into this matter more yourself, I suggest Democracy Now, as their reporting is extremely well-informed. What do you think of these actions by the police and private corporate security forces? Do you think that Native Americans (as well as all Americans) have the right to peacefully protest? Have you seen other videos of peaceful protesters being pepper sprayed directly in the eyes by police officers, and what do you think of that? Let me know in the comments below.