A Tool Box to Explain the DAPL Conflict to Friends, Family, Leaders; Ultimate Irony: Border Patrol Enlisted Against Standing Rock

sign-2The situation near Standing Rock is getting more and more desperate, with Energy Transfer Partners committed to finish drilling under the Missouri before year’s end, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issuing what amounts to an eviction order for those at the Water Protectors’ main camp.

We need to talk to friends and family, and to our political and religious leaders, to stop the violence, stop the pipeline, and to Stand Up for Standing Rock.

Here are a couple of visuals to help you get some of the main  point across quickly.

Took Box Item #1: The No DAPL Map

Cartographer Carl Sacks published his No DAPL map in the Huffington Post. It helps reframe the conflict by including information typically left off of the maps that simply show the current pipeline route. Here is a link to the map to print out and share. It includes:

  • A proposed pipeline route that originally crossed under the Missouri River near the majority white city of Bismarck, but was rejected in part due to citizen concerns about the threat to their drinking water.
  • The current pipeline route that crosses the unceded Sioux Territory from the (broken) 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie.
  • The sacred sites that pipeline company bulldozed as soon as Standing Rock identified them in court documents. (For more details, see this article from The Atlantic, which notes: “The case is especially egregious because the Standing Rock Sioux were seeking an injunction to halt construction. Instead of waiting for a verdict from the court, Dakota Access went forward and destroyed many of the sites. “)

Tool Box Item #2: Here is a 90-second video from the Nov. 20 confrontation between law enforcement and Water Protectors near Standing Rock. It is something you can share with friends and family; it is shorter and better produced than much of the uncut video available on line.

This was the evening some 300 Water Protectors were injured and required medical treatment, including Sophia Wilansky, 21, who nearly had her arm blown off and had to be airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center. (If you want more details, here is the Standing Rock Medic & Healer Council’s media release on injuries.)

This confrontation happened on a bridge on a highway north of Oceti Sakowin, the main Water Protectors camp, which is on federal land. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is now pulling the camp’s permit, telling people to leave by Dec. 5 or face trespass charges.

The justification? Public safety.

Here are some questions to pose from the video: Who is endangering public safety, law enforcement or the Water Protectors? Where is the video showing the threat coming from the Water  Protectors? This public safety challenge has been going on for months. Where are the federal mediators or monitors? Why not talk to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department about reasonable use of force?

Tool Box Item #3: Talking Points: There are several written summaries that are useful to add talking points to go with the visuals above. For example:

  • Honor the Earth has a two-page fact sheet critiquing DAPL. In a sentence, you could say: “The  government’s approval process was deeply flawed, including inadequate environmental review and lack of tribal consultation.”
  • This blog has a separate Dakota Access Pipeline page, which summarizes a number of denominational statements in support of Standing Rock. In a sentence you could say: “This is a moral issue, and those who have taken a position in support of Standing Rock include: the ELCA, the Presbyterian Church USA, the Episcopal Church, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the United Church of Christ, the Minnesota Conference of the United Methodist Church, and the Mennonite Central Committee.”

Irony #1: Border Patrol Being Used Against Standing Rock Nation

Protests erupted in the Twin Cities when the Hennepin, Anoka, and Washington county sheriffs departments send deputies to North Dakota to support a heavily militarized response to the No DAPL movement. They have since pulled out, but other law enforcement agencies continue to step in.

According to a recent article in Yes! Magazine:

Agents with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection will be the latest agency assisting Morton County Sheriff Department deputies to guard Dakota Access pipeline construction as it prepares to drill under the Missouri River.

That’s right, the agency that is supposed to keep people from illegally entering this country is being used against the indigenous peoples who were the first ones here.

Yes! Magazine included a recent ACLU list of law enforcement agencies responding to Morton County’s request. There are 75 agencies apparently responding to the mutual assistance request. The list can be found here.

Public pressure matters. In addition to the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department, other departments have declined Morton County’s request for mutual aid, according the article in Yes! Magazine. They include Montana’s Gallatin County and Wisconsin’s Dane County.

Irony #2: The So-Called Free Speech Zone

The Army Corps of Engineers has come up with some pretty Orwellian language in dealing with the Water Protectors. According to an MPR report:

In a statement Sunday, the Army Corps said it has no plans to forcibly remove protesters, but anyone staying on the camp after that date will be trespassing and subject to prosecution. The Army Corps has offered what it calls a “free speech zone” in a different location that it says is more accessible to emergency vehicles.

A Free Speech Zone? First, there is something contradictory about telling people where they have to stand and speak if they want free speech. It just doesn’t sound like free speech. (They’ve had these at national political conventions, which also get pretty militarized. It’s not free speech.)

Second, there is something bizarre  about choosing a Free Speech Zone because it is convenient to emergency vehicles. It presupposes that more people will get hurt, so how is that free speech? This is an over-the-top statement, but the message being sent sounds like this: “Stand here in this circle. Speak your mind. Get hit. We will get you quick medical help.”

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