Thursday, February 23, 2017

Water Protectors Retreat

I was able to watch a bit of what was going on at Standing Rock via Unicorn Riot's livestream yesterday, and I must say it was dispiriting on many levels.

The Oceti Oyate (formerly, Oceti Sakowin) camp had already been largely vacated and dismantled when the final eviction order was issued early in February. The issue of "clean up" came to the fore, with the authorities declaring anything that had been left in the camp was trash. Some clearly was, but much wasn't. Nevertheless, the bulldozers and skip loaders were sent in to "clear" the campground before the spring floods.

Of course they made a worse mess of things by churning up mud and destroying perfectly useful shelter and supplies.

Yesterday, the remaining Water Protectors lit the wooden buildings still standing on fire, in a ceremonial act. A few veterans and Water Protectors stood in the road confronting riot garbed police. For reasons unclear, the police attacked the unarmed Water Protectors, injuring several and arresting 9 or 10. Then they retreated behind their barricades saying they would leave the 50 or so remaining Protectors and veterans to their own devices, with the proviso that "clean up" would re-commence at 9am this morning. People on site at that time would not be subject to arrest unless they interfered with "clean up."

These are some of Unicorn Riot's videos from yesterday. Unfortunately, they missed a good deal of the action, particularly the police assault.

This is a link to Eric Poemz live video from the scene yesterday. He was apparently shot in the hip with a "rubber bullet" and arrested, along with several other independent media reporters. His arrest is documented at about the 2:57:00 mark in the more than 3 hour video.

Note: I despise Facebook, but for whatever reason, activists are devoted to it.

Truthdig live-blogged events yesterday. So there is that.

Some of the activists have moved to other camps nearby, but I've heard that they may be subject to eviction orders as well. Other Water Protectors have dispersed around the country, focused on the issue of... well, "Water Protection." Pipeline projects; contaminated municipal water systems; riparian and aquifer issues and so on.

I think I may have mentioned that the local municipal water system where I live doesn't meet federal standards for lead and other contaminants, so we don't drink it. Thousands of other municipal systems are in similar non-compliance, not just Flint's, but of course nothing (much) is being done about it.

The issue of water protection is not going away anytime soon, and it goes well beyond the specific matter of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Actions have been taking place all across the country and elsewhere, and they will no doubt continue until water protection really is taken seriously by those who rule us. So far, water is seen as a commodity for profit.

The Water Protectors and their allies made a stand in North Dakota. Hundreds were arrested, hundreds were injured, some permanently. They sacrificed their comfort and convenience and ultimately their well-being for a cause greater than themselves, and I commend them.

They showed that the State is the enemy of the People. Period. End of discussion.

So. What is to be done?

Pipelines will continue to be built. Water systems will continue to be contaminated. Profit seekers will continue to privatize access to clean water. That's how things are set up, and that's not going to change soon.

Nevertheless, the Water Protectors have highlighted just how screwed up the ruling paradigm is, and they have shown the way toward rectification. They didn't succeed in North Dakota but they showed how to succeed over time. It's a long struggle back from the brink, but if no one tries, they will never succeed.

Sustained opposition to what's wrong, positive envisioning of what's right, sacrifice, prayer, and determination all enter into the process of rectification.

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