And the Native American situation cannot be viewed as anything other than the total abjection of any form of justice... starting at the first day of European contact and being highlighted today in the severe injustices being inflicted in North Dakota.
Saving What Is Truly Sacred In This World
by Abby Zimet
While Friday saw a slight lessening of tensions at Standing Rock - barricades came down at the calm behest of an elder who insisted progress would only come through prayer, not violence - the week still afforded an appalling view of the ongoing charade of American "justice" in all its enduring white privilege and stubborn cognitive dissonance. Exhibit A was the acquittal - aka white man's verdict - of the Bundy gang of right-wing, assault-weapon-toting, Constitution-misquoting white hooligans who laid long boisterous claim to Oregon wildlife sanctuary land that was never theirs to begin with, even as law enforcement laid low because boys will be boys. Lesson to the already pitchfork-wielding red corners of the country: You can forcefully take whatever, and ask for snacks while you do, if you're white and male. Also known as "White Dudes Getting Away With Crazy Shit—Case #5,000,000,000,000,000."
On the same day, hundreds of uber-militarized, heavily armed riot police from over six states, backed by helicopters, armored vehicles and the profit motive of private business with billions at stake, swooped in on peaceful, praying water protectors of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe seeking, in a pure act of civil disobedience, to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline and thus save from destruction water and land that belongs to them under an 1851 treaty - or in the words of one protector, "to do something good and right."
For their trouble they were set upon by tasers, pepper spray, rubber bullets and water cannons; some observers reported native medics were deliberately shot; over 140 were roughly arrested, and reports circulated that some of those were subjected to impromptu hoods and waterboarding - this, surreally, even as a herd of buffalo suddenly appeared Friday near the protest site in a sort of karmic vision, and millions of Americans happily watched the Cleveland Indians (sic) play ball.
The awful irony of these two disparate narratives - white privilege vs. historic injustice - was painfully clear to many, as was its centuries-long consistency. In a blistering, unlikely rant this summer, MSNBC's Lawrence O’Donnell blasted America's "business of killing Indians...for the crime of living where we wanted to live” and the Dakota Pipeline as "yet another link to a chain of treaties broken with impunity." Never mind the bogus Trumpian fear of foreigners invading us; Native-Americans have lived with that very real fear for over 500 years. "The original sin of this country is that we invaders shot and murdered our way across the land killing every Native-American we could...This country was founded on genocide before the word genocide was invented." Now, still and all arrayed against it: The "stunning strength (and) endurance of a people (who) have always known what is truly sacred in this world."
Lindsey Grayzel, along with cinematographer Carl Davis, was arrested and jailed on October 11 in Burlington, Washington after filming environmentalist Ken Ward, the subject of her current documentary.
Ward, who was also arrested, was taking part in a #ShutItDown action to protest fossil fuels and express solidarity with those resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline.
"Freedom of the press is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The protections given to the press extend to documentary filmmakers, who bring context to a story that is not possible under the constraints of commercial news outlets," she said in a statement released to news outlets.
"My focus is long form documentary, and I've been working to craft a film about Ken Ward's climate activism for over a year. It is a rare person who will acknowledge the reality of climate change and react not with helplessness, but instead with a determination to do everything in his power to stop or at least slow down the destruction. My job now is to tell Ken's story to the public, and I look forward to finishing this film."
The statement also lists the charges Grayzel faces:
- Burglary, 2nd Degree (Class B Felony): ten years imprisonment, a fine of $20,000, or both.
- Criminal Sabotage, (Class B Felony): ten years imprisonment, a fine of $20,000, or both.
- Assemblage of Saboteurs (Class B Felony): ten years imprisonment, a fine of $5,000, or both.
- Criminal Trespass, 2nd Degree (Misdemeanor): ninety days imprisonment, a fine of $1,000, or both.
- Total maximum punishment: 30 years + 90 days imprisonment, a fine of $46,000 or both.
Call them Y'allQaeda. Call them VanillaISIS. Call them Yokel Haram or al-Shabubba. Say they're engaging in YeeHawd. By all means, mercilessly mock those dopey hicks who claim to want to spark a revolution against tyranny by taking control of an empty bird sanctuary in Middle of Nowhere, Oregon.
There's so much material already there to work with, including the signs emblazoned with fiery slogans they've posted to warn people off -- slogans with, of course, multiple misspellings -- and social media pleas for "snacks"that they apparently forgot to pack, despite claims that they plan to occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for years. There's the comically melodramatic "goodbye" videos posted by these idiots to their families -- their oath to protect this land has to come first, after all -- and the predictable fracturing of the group's conspiracy theorist support network, part of which has declared that this whole takeover is nothing more than a false flag operation. All of it is deserving of a Nelson-from-The Simpsons-style point and laugh -- except of course for the one lingering issue that hangs over this entire thing like an ominous black cloud.
The fact is, as dumb and pathetic as these clowns are, they're heavily armed. Our government allows them to be heavily armed, despite their ironic anti-government bent. They're carrying AR-15s and Glocks and no doubt every other kind of popular firearm they could get their hands on -- they were, it's worth noting, free to get their hands on, in this supposed land of soul-crushing tyranny -- and when you break it down, there's nothing more terrifying than a monumental fool with delusions of both persecution and grandeur and a whole lot of guns.