Corporate Soldiers Trash and Return Possessions of Water Protectors While 1000 Clergy Members Stand in Unity Against Oppression at Standing Rock

3 11 2016

To see pictures that relate to the summation of the story below go here to my Facebook at


Thursday started out bitterly.  I woke up and somehow the humid moisture had penetrated my tent and the top layer of my blanket was wet.  When I am cold it is cold!  Anyone who knows me knows I run extremely hot, am an oven for others, and even in freezing temperatures I often wear shorts.  These North Dakota nights and cold don’t mess around.  I can’t wear enough clothes and have enough blankets to not feel like my face is going to freeze off in the middle of the night.  And it is only November!  I can’t even imagine what it will be like here in a month or two.


After realizing I did not actually have frost bite, I organized myself and walked up to Center Camp to find that all the possessions from the Water Protectors and their north camp had been trashed and dropped off in one big pile by the corporate soldier military from the confrontation last Thursday.  On that day, the north camp was looted extensively by the invading corporate forces where 150 arrests were made and 70 cars impounded (the arrested persons were detained all throughout the state making it as complicated as possible for them to be processed and have the resources to get back to the reservation).  Religious ceremonies were interrupted and old women, children, and men were forcefully thrown out of their tents, teepees, and kicked out of their community and burial grounds they were trying to protect.  One man I interviewed today got his tent knifed open and physically thrown out on the ground.  Another new friend of mine also had a similar experience but was grabbed by his dreadlocks and had his necklaces ripped off (military dog tags I’ll add) and his hand broken as he was restrained.  He still hasn’t completely recovered his circulation from how tight the draw string hand cuffs were on his wrists.  The invading corporate police pushed all of the residents off their land and then proceeded to dig into the ground, through burial sites, to put their oil pipeline in.  The advancing U.S. corporate army only stopped when the natives lit two cars on fire that were blocking the bridge and roadway at a river crossing.  If this had not happened, many speculate that the central camp would have been attacked next.  The corporate interests were trying to advance as far as they could to create as much distance from the oil pipeline and the water protectors as possible.


Having not been here for this and looking at the landscape today it is hard for me to imagine that there were teepes and homes on the land that I now see across the bridge that is completely flat.  When the looted items were returned this morning to the central camp most things were ripped up and broken or already destroyed.  People lost a lot of possessions in this confrontation and to have them returned was a slap in the face.  Does it make any sense to return destroyed possessions to those you stole them from?  It seems like a way to try and make it seem like you did not do anything wrong.  I can see the justification by the corporate police now claiming that they acted justly by returning all the items that were confiscated in the way they had found them.


I spent much of my day today talking to people and being shown their wounds from the rubber bullets and/or bean bag guns.  They are some pretty gnarly wounds and nothing to be taken lightly.  People need medicine and medical help here.  There also is a general frustration that there is no way to fight back.  Many of the younger water protectors are frustrated that they really have no option in fighting back as the strategies of non-violence and peace is hard to implement in the face of such hostility.  “How has that worked for us” one man stated?  “It’s led to our slow extermination over the centuries.  We need to stand up and physically fight back!”  I can understand their frustration and at times I agree and other times I don’t.  Non-violence is an extremely hard thing to accomplish.  When it works it really works but most of the time it just feels like you are allowing rape to occur.  That feeling obviously does not get easier to deal with over time and leads to all sorts of trauma and stress and depression, etc.  It can kill slowly kill people and communities.  Some of the younger water protectors seek of doing desperate actions and sacrificing their lives and riding past the police lines in major acts of defiance.  You can see how suicide fighters gain momentum.  When people have no real forms of immediate self-defense, major desperation ensues and a depressed individual with nowhere else to turn can see this as a solution.  And the sad thing is that it can be extremely effective, but that is your last move.  There obviously is no life after such an action.  Decades spent trying to help out the world all go down the drain.  All of that energy goes into that last act.  These conversations are intense to listen to and I have no idea what to tell these people, except that I think decades of trying to make the world a better place is better than a last ditch effort of an intense suicide fighter attempt.  But I am white, I am not a native, I am a guest on their land and don’t experience their pain and their life so my opinion is not really considered and, honestly, should it?


On a lighter note, later in the early afternoon close to 1000 clergy people showed up and participated in a prayer ceremony of peace next to the barricaded corporate police blockade.  It was remarkable to see so many faiths come together and agree on peace and standing as one in the face of what was happening at Standing Rock.  Each congregation would say prayers in their own customs in a giant people ring, holding hands.  I have not had the best experience with religion in my life standing for positive things and seeing this act of solidarity was so motivating and inspiring to know that there ARE religions in the world that can have peace with people who think differently than them and ultimately know that standing for peace and tolerance and the oppressed makes us all win.  I was taken aback with emotion by these events.  The ring looped in on itself too and, even though it took many hours, each person shook hands and/or hugged everyone else in the ring.  I loved the connection created from this.  It made me feel like everyone at this event today felt connected with everyone else and it led to really wonderful conversations throughout the day.  The people here today are the true leaders in the world.  What happened here today should be emulated all throughout the world.


Back at center camp a women spoke today who was from Alaska and who had been at the camp for months.  She talked about how Alaska has dealt with their pipeline issues since they were put back in many decades ago.  There was of course the Exxon disaster that happened which was atrocious, but what this women was mainly stating was the subtle danger of the pipeline.  They have been told many times over that the pipeline is fitted with full safe equipment so that it won’t leak, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth.  There have been constant leakages that have occurred and at every moment in time they are dealing with a leak here and a leak there and it’s caused constant damage to water ways, nature, and the overall landscape of Alaska.  The end all be all of a pipeline is that it WILL leak and cause environmental damage and make our water and nature incredibly polluted.  There is no guarantee about pipelines not leaking.  It is a false promise dished out by corporate interests and if the pipeline is allowed to be put in at Standing Rock it will leak just like every other pipeline has and get into the waterways and float downstream to have atrocious negative effects on the people and the animals and the nature in the Dakotas and beyond.


This pipeline issue and investing further in the oil industry and fracking, etc. is the most important issue of our time.  Every state and place in the world is having to deal with this corporate interest trumping the interests of people and their communities and nature.  It’s happening everywhere!  It’s about valuing humanity and a right to live a healthy life over corporate interests.  We will get distracted by our political leaders that it’s about women’s rights or the first female president or gay rights or getting rid of the death penalty or pulling out of a war abroad or fearing Russia or fearing Iran or giving more people jobs and having a healthy economy, etc.  You name any single issue that is a hot button issue and that is what we will be led to be distracted on.  However, it isn’t about any one of these issues.  It is about ALL of these issues and the corporate rule that is having an effect on the rights of everyone, the environment as a whole, and all of us not having opportunities to have healthy life, liberty, and happiness.  It is time to stand up for all people and not just one group of people.  They will continue try this distracting approach, this dividing approach with single issues but we need to take on the whole problem and not put up with anything short of that.  What is going on right now is NOT working.  It is not leading to better lives being lived by all.  Everybody is doing far worse.  The environment is suffering tremendously and the negativity is spreading exponentially as years pass.  It is time to demand a change to the way things are being done.  It is time to stand up to a corporate government, corporate interests, corporate soldiers, and the ways our government are continuing to oppress all people whether it’s directly or passively, whether it’s Democrat or Republican.  The U.S. is an example of what happens when it hires out a corporate army.  Not standing against this and doing things as we always have done will put everyone and the world at risk.  We really have no other choice as corporations are aligning themselves to make profits at all costs while selling us oil to drink and oil to live in.  Is this the kind of world we want?

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2 responses

4 11 2016

Thank you for your efforts and especially for these write ups! As someone who cares deeply about the protests and is considering/trying to get there in person as well, this is all very useful and I will continue to follow! Stay strong!

4 11 2016

Hey Ben. Glad I can provide on the ground information to you and thanks the positive thoughts:)

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