Last night at Standing Rock

Last night at Standing Rock was an appalling demonstration of what a militarized police state looks like in the Land of the Free. I’m not going to go into details on the egregious use of excessive force and the injuries that were intentionally caused by humans who took an oath to protect and serve their communities—the irony of this cannot be overstated when compared to a volunteer nonviolent unarmed citizenry attempting to stand up to an out of control corporation hell-bent on destroying the land and a major drinking water source that sustains life[1]. I think the police state and the Evil Corporation (DAPL) wants us to dwell on the abuse they inflicted upon us. But that was not what I was focusing on.

I saw hundreds and thousands of people who were so committed to fighting for what is right that they put their own personal safety and health in jeopardy over and over again. It was below freezing last night, the icy wind blows constantly causing your face to dry out and freeze. Just being out in the night air as the sun begins to set is very unpleasant and not for the weak. No matter how many layers of clothing or socks I wore it only took an hour or two before I was dreaming of a warm fire and my sleeping bag. But last night as the temperature dipped into the teens, water protectors stood out in the cold as a small group of them began to clear the 1806 road of debris in order to re-open the road (this is the road where another standoff occurred a few weeks ago as water protectors attempted to stop DAPL from desecrating graves and sacred sites on behalf of the Standing Rock tribe and were attacked by DAPL security and attack dogs). This debris—two military trucks that were burned a few weeks ago—was purposefully left in the road by the State and DAPL. They planned to use this blockade in order to prevent the media and citizen observers from monitoring the actions of this criminal corporation in an attempt to ensure it can continue to destroy the environment with impunity. They also used this blockade to cause the locals to blame the water protectors for their personal inconvenience as they traveled an extra hour to avoid the blockade. The water protectors were not to blame—DAPL and the State intentionally caused their inconvenience. There was no real reason that the 1806 road had to be blocked and rendered unusable by travelers. DAPL and the State benefited from the increased animosity of the ranchers and locals toward the water protectors; they benefit from pitting the local people who will be most impacted when their drinking water is destroyed, against those people who gave up their jobs, their comforts, their normal lives to come and try to protect the water that serves those locals.

Clearing Road 1806 was long overdue. The State and DAPL should have cleared it weeks ago. Obviously they were not going to do so. And so once again Water Protectors were forced to act in the public interest. All they were going to do was pull those two trucks to the side of the road. The people’s road. The road that the public uses to travel upon on a daily basis.

The other thing I saw were hundreds and thousands of water protectors helping each other and acting like a true resistance movement. I saw medics sacrificing themselves to help people who were overcome with tear gas or were suffering from hypothermia from the freezing water canons that relentlessly fired into the crowd. I watched water protectors helping the medics and their patients when the police intentionally fired tear gas canisters at the areas where medics were attending to injured people. How weak and pathetic those cops were, and how strong our people are. I watched water protector vehicles work like a well-trained rescue group shuttling people in and out of what looked like a war zone. I watched water protectors at camp create big warming fires, locate hundreds of blankets and towels, and help those who were literally frozen in their clothing get warm and save them from the suffering cold. I watched people take care of each other. I watched unprecedented dedication to the cause and of equal importance, to each other. I never saw a single ambulance or EMT even inquire as to the harm the State caused to human beings at Standing Rock.

Last night the State may have thought they won the battle of the Backwater Bridge. They are wrong. The strength with which our movement fought—without weapons or violence toward those weak cowards wearing badges—was the stuff of historic legend. I am so honored to be playing a tiny part in this resistance movement. I’m heading back to Oregon now and as soon as I get home the CLDC will find some water protector plaintiffs and sue those cowards for the crimes they committed last night. And although Standing Rock and the water protectors will continue to fight regardless of our lawsuits, I believe it is important to make it clear that State actions like what we saw last night are not only illegal. They are morally indefensible. Those actions have no place in a so called free democracy. If we do not hold them accountable for their crimes, they will continue to perpetuate them on others.

In strength and solidarity,


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[1] See the Livestream videos of our comrades Thomas Joseph and Unicorn Riot if you have not already seen the police misconduct from November 20, 2016.

Thomas Joseph:

Unicorn Riot:


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