Like so many with a Native American heritage I have been watching the protests at Standing Rock, trying to figure out which side of the issue I am on. I find I can not automatically support the tribal side of this as some of my relatives have, the issue is not so clear cut. I have been reading both sides to see where the issue lies.
The incident has much in parallel with the issues here on our mountain. Native people protesting a project that takes place on a purported sacred site. There is also the element of environmentalism in protesting an oil pipeline, and entirely different issue than a clean project like an observatory.
This week’s violent episode has me asking questions. How did this happen? What happened. The protest side has been loudly proclaiming that security guards just attacked them with pepper spray and dogs. They play up the injuries, including some to a child.
I have problems with the story, something sounded wrong from the first, it just does not ring true. Professional security firms do not do this… It looks bad. They know the media is watching, they know the protesters are filming everything. An unprovoked attack reflects badly on them and their employer. Why would they do what they are accused of doing?
The protesters own videos answer these questions… The attack was very much provoked.
The attackers were the protesters, not the guards. This was self defense.
Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, December 11, 1964
The videos clearly show a mob. Yes, I will call it a mob as that is what it was. People who had worked up a great deal of anger and were venting that anger in a very noisy and direct way.
While that anger may be justified, the result was not. They advance on the security guards who are holding a very thin line between the protesters and the pipeline workers. The protesters are yelling, throwing objects (What? Rocks probably), and hitting at the dogs with sticks. I was actually amazed at how restrained the security personnel were when faced with an extraordinarily scary situation, outnumbered ten to one.
Really? Watch the videos…
Keep in mind that these videos are posted by the protesters. You can click the FaceBook icons in the corner of the video to read the original pages, and read the comments.
This is not how you do it.
This sort of event threatens to discredit your entire movement no matter how you try to spin the events in the press and on social media. The videos from both sides are (or will be) available for watching.
The tribes were winning, their protest having an effect in the press and more likely in the courts in the coming weeks. This sort of mob violence can waste all of that effort in one moment whatever the right or wrong of the issue.