This week, I and many other peaceful water protectors were attacked at the Oceti Sakowin Camp in Standing Rock, ND.
I am calling on you to sign our urgent petition to President Barack Obama, Chief of Staff to the President Denis McDonough, and Assistant Secretary of Army Corps of Engineers Jo-Ellen Darcy to stop the pipeline and to end the historic violence against Native Peoples.
I can tell you first hand that on the week of Thanksgiving 2016 the US Government is still brutalizing Native Americans on their own land. On Sunday evening, I quickly went from preparing dinner to defending the front line from a militarized police assault.
Native elders prayed near the barricade as nonviolent demonstrators faced DAPL’s militarized police, Morton County Sheriff Office, and their weapons. The prayers were meant for both sides.
The police’s violent attack on our camp carried on until the next morning and in the midst of it I and hundreds of others were tear gassed and shot at with rubber bullets as we fled the thick, suffocating clouds of smoke. A camp-mate of mine was shot by one of the bullets and had his arm broken. One woman I know was sent to the ER because one of the police’s concussion grenades exploded near her face, causing burns. The police hosed us with liquids for hours in the freezing cold. Our warm clothes froze stiff. You could see icicles forming on the razor wires as they aimed their guns at us. I’m still haunted by the fact that one young woman whom I’d seen at the camp nearly every day and have spoken to a couple times may have to have her arm amputated from a police concussion grenade that was aimed at her.
That night, our camp was converted into an fully functioning emergency response center with every necessary health and support service you could imagine being provided by hundreds, if not thousands of volunteers. Nobody rested.
It’s almost impossible to believe that within a matter of minutes, our camp went from a peaceful place of laughter and prayer to a battlefield. The police were not there to arrest us that night- I believe only one person was arrested- they were there to hurt us and to wear down the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their growing support, in an attempt to protect DAPL.
I am still hearing individual stories from that late night and still having difficulty coming to terms with what we experienced. I remember thinking to myself, “Is this Iraq or Standing Rock?” I will never forget what I saw there. Through that experience, the purpose of the camp and the struggle there became clearer to me, and for many of us, it has strengthened our resolve.
We are not simply camped out to make a point. We are in it to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline. We are in it to protect our planet and our brothers and sisters who inhabit it. We are in it to defend Native American treaties. We are in it to oppose racist militarism at home and abroad. And we are in it to win.
Thanks to your support, we have been able to turn our calls of solidarity into meaningful action.
Please, as you enjoy the holidays and the company of your loved ones, do not forget Standing Rock, which in my assessment, is the epicenter of our ongoing battle for peace and justice today.
UFPJ Organizer & Peace Pledge Campaigner