Law Enforcement is Systematically Dehumanizing Standing Rock Water Protectors to Justify Violence – Part 2

Police in riot gear prepare to remove land protectors. Photo from Facebook

Guest Commentary

Published February 20, 2017

Part 2 of 2

North Dakota is the keeper of the runner up title for state with most hate crimes and has held that title since 2012 according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Well – except for 2013 when North Dakota won the title and wore the crown of most criminal haters in the country.

The Morton County Sheriff is deliberately demonstrating that the Water Protectors’ are internationally and nationally challenging the accepted racism. He is tacitly showing the challenge to white superiority in North Dakota in order to create an us (whites) vs them (anyone who thinks brown people are equal humans to whites). The Morton County Sheriff is intentionally whipping up the racist factions and increasing the settler anxiety in order to escalate public hostility and make violence against the Water Protectors acceptable.

Tensions were relatively low between Water Protectors and law enforcement in December 2016. On December 4, the Obama Administration stopped the drilling and ordered a complete Environmental Impact Statement. On December 5, a wave of thousands veterans arrived in Standing Rock with the stated mission to protect the Water Protector from police violence.

Unwilling to allow the public to come to their senses and cool down and think; the Morton County Sheriff released a document to whip up the racism and dehumanization again and it used its favorite old tactics; racist, bigoted propaganda. On January 9, 2017 the Morton County Sheriff released information about the cost of the Water Protector Camps.
Days of Response Support (since August 10, 2016) 153

Hours of Response Support (as of January 9, 2017) 181,232

State and Local Cost to Taxpayers (estimated as of Jan 4, 2017) $22.3 M

In State Agencies Providing Support 91

States Providing Support1 9

Out of State Agencies Providing Support 33

Number of Arrests 581

Number of Protesters Arrested 556

Percent of Arrestees from Out of State 94.5%

Number of Arrestees with Prior Criminal Records2 182

Number of Arrestees with History of Violence3 25

Number of livestock killed/missing, injured4 (as of Jan 6, 2016) 10 / 32

Number of poaching investigations tied to protest area 53

Number of abandoned cars/structures on protest camp (estimated) 650 – 75

  1. Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Wyoming
  2. Total of 1062 previous citations and charges for illegal activity (as of Jan 3, 2016).
  3. Includes domestic violence and child abuse.
  4. ND Stockmen’s Association. 1 bull, 2 horses, 3 bison, 4 cows killed. 30 missing cows and calves, 2 injured cows.
  5. ND State Game and Fish Department
  6. ND Department of Emergency Services

First, they focus on cost, the cost and manpower to contain the evil scourge of the Water Protectors. The cost is directly related to the mass militarization of the police which is widely criticized by human rights organizations, police officials, civil rights groups, and indigenous groups.

This is a choice the people of North Dakota have made to over police the area. However, by framing it as an unwanted cost to the people, the Water Protectors are seen as taking from the good, taxpaying citizens of North Dakota.

To translate this from the cloaked racism of the Morton County Sheriff’s Office to the actual meaning, addressing the cost can be reduced to one sentence, “The brown people are stealing your money.”

Missing livestock and poaching is added to the mix in the report. Even though the poaching and missing livestock was never linked to the camps in any way, no evidence was provided to link it to the camps, and the idea that a herd of 30 cows could disappear or be slaughtered under the nose of nearly a thousand police and National Guard with nearly constant aerial surveillance is preposterous – it is again linked to the camps.

Horses are considered people in Lakota tradition. The idea they would tolerate the slaughter of a horse is ridiculous.

Then the Sheriff’s Office moves on to painting the Water Protectors as a collection of law disobeying miscreants.

They bothered to do the jingoistic math for the number of Water Protectors from out of state, asserting a number of 94.5 percent. They do not explain the number or if Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is considered out of state by their number but it serves the same purpose either way – rile up the jingoists.

They did not bother to do the math on the people with a history of violence. Of the 556 arrestees at that time (it is over 700 now), the grand total with a violent history is 25 or less than 4.5 percent of arrestees had a history of violence.

Or 95.5 percent have no history of violence.

Did Morton County Sheriff’s Office suddenly lose the ability to do math? Were they suddenly stuck without a calculator? Did their phone stop working and they could not call a high school junior for help? Was their statistician suddenly struck by lightening and no officer was capable of figuring out the math because their IQ is below that of a wombat?

RELATED: Law Enforcement is Systematically Dehumanizing Standing Rock Water Protectors to Justify Violence – Part 1

No. They were caught trying to present a false narrative.

According to the FBI crime statistics for 2014, 498,666 people were arrested for violent crimes out of 11,205,833 total arrests or 4.45 percent of arrests are for violent crimes. Having a 4.5 percent violent arrest rate is totally, completely, and exactly in the American normal.

Either Morton County Sheriff’s Office is so grossly misinformed about national crime statistics that they don’t know this is perfectly average that they should probably give up policing right now or they are attempting to paint all the Water Protectors as a wild bunch of violent hooligans; marauding and terrorizing the poor white community of nice, vulnerable law-abiding citizens.

They added in child abuse and domestic violence in the notes for the giggles of showing those damned Indians are so dangerous – even people in their homes are not safe. They did not disclose how many of those 25 people had such charges.

Police State in North Dakota at DAPL on Friday, October 28, 2016. Photo by Christopher Francisco

The Sheriff added a new category of dehumanization – dirty. They included a number of abandoned cars and structures at the protest camp of 650-75. Morton County Sheriff’s Office provided no evidence for their numbers, nor how they came to those numbers.

It would be surprising to learn how they learned which structures were abandoned without conducting illegal searches of people’s homes in the camps – but that is a totally separate issue.

The point is not to be accurate or lawful, it is to paint the Water Protectors as dirty. Not figuratively filthy, but literally slovenly.

Morton County Sheriff’s Office validated the accusations of dehumanization when during arrests they strip searched, labeled, different searches for different races, and keeping people in animal cages.

Police raided Sacred Ground Camp on October 27, 2016. The camp was situated on grounds considered sacred burial grounds to many Native American nations. It was also directly in the proposed path of the Bakken Dakota Access Pipeline. Police made over 140 arrests.

Arrestees’ arms were labeled with numbers in permanent marker, instead of their names in a fashion resembling WWII European concentration camp victims.

LaRae Meadows is a freelance writer, who has been embedded at Standing Rock.




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