Minneapolis rally protests use of sheriff’s deputies in Standing Rock attack

nov-2016-minn-no-daplBy KAREN SCHRAUFNAGEL and JOHN SCHRAUFNAGEL

— MINNEAPOLIS — Close to 1500 people protested on Friday, Oct. 28, outside Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek’s office. The protesters were angered by the use of Hennepin County deputies and equipment brutalizing Indigenous people and their allies at Standing Rock.

Sheriff’s departments from across the Midwest have been sending public resources to aid private corporations in removing water protectors from their own land, so that an unnecessary and dangerous pipeline can be built. Citizens from these areas are rising up to protest the use of our tax dollars to attack Native sovereignty in the name of insatiable capitalist greed. Sheriff’s deputies from Madison returned home after successful protests in that city, but deputies and equipment from Minneapolis and surrounding areas remain.

On Sunday, Oct. 30, more than 100 people attended a “No DAPL Emergency Response Action Briefing” in Minneapolis, where updates from Standing Rock were shared and myriad ways to help / participate were discussed. People were urged to go to Standing Rock if they were able.

In a phone briefing from the Front Lines provided by Honor the Earth, we learned that as of Oct. 30 the pipeline is within 750 yards of the Missouri River. Indigenous bodies are the last line of defense. On Thursday, as we protested in Hennepin County, police and National Guard troops violently attacked the peaceful protectors at Standing Rock.

Thane Maxwell of Honor the Earth reported: “It is really a war zone here. We are peacefully facing down a full arsenal of military weaponry. Journalists and medics are being targeted. We believe 142 people were arrested—almost all charged with felonies. We can’t say for sure because the ‘authorities’ are withholding information. They were taken to four different jails in four different counties. When bail was finally announced it was set at $1500 each. Do the math.” [I did the math, that’s $213,000 in bail money].

He continued: “Over the last months, we have seen an amazing escalation in the tactics being used against us. Now they are torturing people. Nearly everyone arrested was strip searched, they were subjected to severe heat and cold, some were kept naked in dog kennels, pain compliance positions were employed, water boarding was reported.”

One of those taken to the Morton County Jail, Yosh, reported to us about the treatment he received: “On the long ride to the jail we were shackled with our outdoor winter gear on. The heat was on full blast. We arrived at the jail and were not booked in / no citations were issued. They do this so we cannot bond out. They took all our clothes and gave us orange jumpsuits—no socks, no blankets, no pillows. The ventilation system was on and it was cold. They crammed 35-45 of us into cells designed to hold no more than 15 people. Then they turned off the ventilation system, and the smell was very bad (prior to our arrest we had walked eight miles in warm gear, plus on the bus we were all sweating badly).

“They also used a type of psychological torture. They asked if any of us wanted to be moved to another jail (three hours away); people didn’t want to do that. Then they asked who wants to be bailed out. I raised my hand right away because I had family there waiting to bail me out. They seemed to be processing me but they took me out to get on a bus. I protested that I was supposed to be getting bailed out. So they brought me back inside. They waited for my family to leave and allowed enough time for them to return to the camp before they gave me my phone call. They know there is no cell service at the camp. They waited to give me my phone call until they knew I would not reach anyone. That is just what they do.”

We also learned in our briefing that the helicopters that continuously fly over the camp withdrew last night just before a major prairie fire started. The constant law enforcement presence was nowhere to be seen and the prairie right near the camp was allowed to burn and burn. There is no question as to whom law enforcement in this situation “serves and protects.”

Obviously, anyone who is able is encouraged to go to Standing Rock. They need people willing to risk arrest (and possible torture) to join the front lines, but they also need a lot of people in the camp. We are told to come “but don’t come as a tourist”—respect the leadership in the camp, be prepared to work in the kitchens, chopping wood, and unloading and sorting supplies. There is a lot to do to keep the camp running. People are living there, and that takes work.

But if you can’t come to the camp, don’t think there is nothing you can do. They have spent more than $300,000 on bail so far. So the legal defense funds are in need of constant replenishing.

People are encouraged to call and protest at their local Army Corps of Engineers. The Army Corps of Engineers does not have the authority to permit this pipeline. This is Sovereign land. Treaties need to be respected. Call the White House (202-456-1111). There were 31,000 calls last week. Obama can stop this. Put the people and the planet before profit!

 Photo of Minneapolis rally by Karen Schraufnagel / Socialist Action. Karen Schraufnagel is Socialist Action’s candidate for U.S. vice president in 2016.