Watching the protests at Standing Rock, N.D., I was initially heartened by the enormous cooperative effort by Native Americans and allies working together to protect natural resources for millions of people.
However, as the protests have continued, I have come to the grim realization that we as a nation are living in the iron grip of a “V For Vendetta“-style police state, which plans to crush the peaceful resistance at Standing Rock through suppression of the press, violent and inhumane crowd suppression tactics, and the mass arrests of peaceful protestors.
To understand the crisis at Standing Rock and how it affects every American, first examine the 1869 treaty which guarantees the land at Standing Rock to indigenous people, and ends the warfare between Standing Rock affiliated tribes and white colonists.
Every single event at Standing Rock, from the illegal construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline to the militarized police and mercenary aggression against natives violates this treaty. Effectively, state governments and corporations are again at war with Native Americans, continuing a 500-year legacy of colonization, genocide, and the subjugation of nature.
The Dakota Access Pipeline, at the heart of the Standing Rock battle, is marketed as an economic boon; a way to continue our addiction to fossil fuels that is cheap and easy. To those fighting the construction, the pipeline is an environmental disaster in the making, and when it leaks (when, not if) the pipeline could poison rivers, lakes, and drinking water for millions of people. With the Bismarck area of the proposed pipeline so near the Missouri River, the disaster would be near impossible to contain, blackening clean waters from North Dakota through the Midwest, finding its way into tributaries of the Mississippi and eventually carrying toxicity to the Gulf of Mexico.
In addition to the environmental risk the pipeline poses, construction is disrupting burial grounds and sacred prayer sites still in use by Natives today.
It would seem to many that halting construction of the pipeline would be logical, legal, and respectful of nature and the native inhabitants of this land. But halting construction would not be profitable, and so almost as quickly as the protests began, so did the violence against protestors by mercenary “security” firms and highly militarized police. Using everything from attack dogs to sound cannons, pepper spray, and rubber bullets, police departments from several states aim to break the North Dakota protestors.
Even journalists Amy Goodman and Deia Schlosberg were arrested simply for retiring from the Standing Rock camp. In many ways, the arrests violated First Amendment protections of the free press. The arrests of nearly 140 protestors this week by militarized police further solidified the fears inspired by those first mercenaries: the police state has arrived, and we should all be terrified.
Militarized police are working in conjunction with a private corporation to destroy Native American land, corrupt nature, silence the press, and crush peaceful protest through force. These actions should worry every American, as they represent a willingness, and worse, an ability already present, to crush our First Amendment freedoms and constitutional rights.
The police state we were warned of by human rights watchers, Palestinians, and Black Lives Matter protestors is not coming; it’s already arrived.