Standing Rock 2

(My Standing Rock posts are a diary of two trips James and I took to Standing Rock as, with the backing of our church, we protested the Dakota Access Pipeline. The first four posts come from around Labor Day, 2016. The remaining posts come from around Thanksgiving, 2016.)

It’s just before dawn, and I’m sitting in the van we’re using as a camper, while the protest leaders call for volunteers to go to Camp Red Warrior, which is the front-line action site a few miles up the road. Like most of the people here, we’ve decided not to go. Because of our vacation schedule, we’ll have to start our return to Iowa in a few hours. A lawyer has also advised us that if we do indeed witness anything at Camp Red Warrior, we could be subpoenaed to testify on behalf of a trial’s prosecution. And finally, we aren’t heroes. Yesterday’s mace and dog attacks have frightened us.

It’s tough to discern what to do here. Is it worth our protest, to risk arrest? I’d say yes. Is it worth it to risk a bite from a dog who has just bitten two strangers? That is a question we weren’t prepared to answer. The outside media didn’t mention this. At worst—and after some digging—you could find footage of a sheriff pushing over a cuffed man, so that he fell face-first on the ground. We didn’t hear about the police plane and the private-security helicopter that circle the camps during the day. We didn’t hear much about private security at all, or how they are the ones who are using actual weapons against those who have none. We didn’t hear about young men who call themselves warriors, because they are sitting in peaceful protest while a dog could well maim them.

Perhaps events have escalated with the approach of the September 9 court decision. If that’s the case, I fear what will happen in the coming week. Perhaps the media will escalate its coverage as the “authorities” become more violent. Maybe it takes something that salacious to get its attention. Or worse yet, maybe even blood won’t make the headlines, if it comes merely from a Native American.

(Originally posted September 4, 2016)

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