There I stood, feet entrenched in mud and wetness, rubber bullets swarming above and around me, the harrowing sound of screams as water protectors’ pupils burned from the searing effect of pepper spray and tear gas unleashed within inches of their face.
No, the unarmed, peaceful water protectors I was covering at Turtle Island next to Oceti Sakowin camp weren’t up against Nazis, or Al Qaeda, a band of confederate soldiers, or sleazy bandits.
It was North Dakota police officers shooting at and gassing them.
On November 20th, 2016, it was North Dakota police officers, with assistance from the local fire department, that unleashed freezing water on unarmed water protectors in 26-degree temperature along with rubber bullets, tear gas, and grenades.
Sophia Wilansky nearly had her arm maimed from a grenade shot by police—and will never have close to full feeling again. Vanessa Dundon, a vibrant indigenous woman, lost eyesight in one eye from tear gas shot 15 feet from her face (some of her sight has fortunately returned).
Hundreds experienced hypothermia; hundreds more severe respiratory issues like a severe cough. This isn’t to mention the hundreds, if not thousands, of water protectors with PTSD issues related to being terrorized by the very people whom we were taught are supposed to be our protectors.
And, as if we’re living in some dystopian Orwell novel, the very villainous government forces that worked with private mercenaries to pound the populace into submission are now asking the federal government to pay them for it.
Yes, you read that right.
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, who was not yet Governor as the ND police force racked up tens of millions in overtime and militarized police weaponry costs, is asking President Trump for $38 million in reimbursement for, get this, the “intentional human-made disasters” that “underscored the changing nature of protests in America.”
The Governor is right about one thing: there was a human-made disaster—caused by an unholy alliance between a corrupt oil company and a lacking-moral-and-ethical-compass police department who put job security and pay before country (and I know this tension existed because I spoke off the record with several of them).
The Governor went on to say: “Passionate causes, millions of dollars of anonymous protest funding (over $13.5 million in GoFundme.com alone) and sophisticated and inflammatory social media campaigns have forever changed the nature, duration, and reach of unlawful protests,” he wrote in a letter to the president.
Translated: these damn Indians and their smelly, jobless, hippie comrades need to learn a lesson before they try and impede us from cashing our oil checks at the big banks sponsoring our heist. If they do it again, we’ll shoot even more bullets, unleash even more gas, and the federal government will be there to supply the check.
Meaning, you, the brutalized citizenry having your first amendment erased, will be paying for your own victimization.
And the establishment scoffs when we say we don’t live in a Democracy.
But the scandal is already underway: as part of the new Trump-ness monster budget, North Dakota will already receive $15 million in federal funding to help “reimburse the state for costs incurred” as a result of DAPL protests.
The “emergency law enforcement” funding will come from the Department of Justice budget; the same DOJ currently prosecuting an American citizen for the high crime of laughing at Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
YELL IT WITH ME: Is this America or Nazi Germany!
The corporate media doesn’t care about this story because it’s indigenous people and progressives who were assaulted and will continue to be assaulted; and since the corporations who pay for their makeup and mansions don’t give a shit about those folks, the story just never happened and nothing to see here.
But, for the average pro-oil and authoritarian government troll reading and already typing up drivel: what happens when the tables are turned and the government, in service to corporate criminals, turns against what’s holy and sacred to you?
What happens the day there’s a more deadly weapon invented than guns, making the AR-15 obsolete, and corporate America enlists its politicians and police departments to assault gun owners in service of catapulting the new, more deadly weapon to market leader status?
What happens when Trump, or whatever neoliberal and/or extremist Republican leader comes next, decides all this blue-collar, progressive AND Republican outrage at the corporate-written-trade “deals” that have sold America to the lowest bidder must stop because it’s hurting the corporate bottom line?
Think they’re going to bring roses and feathers while you protest?
For nearly two years, I’ve heard from the brain dead citizens labeled “journalists” on television that we “cannot normalize Donald Trump’s racism.”
The fatal flaw: by focusing your audience’s attention entirely on that, and ignoring abuses of government, police—hell, humanity—you are normalizing fascism.
I don’t know about you, but I will not live in a country where right and wrong no longer matters; where fact or lie no longer matters, where planet vs profit no longer matters.
So, what are you going to do?
Department of Justice: 202-514-2000; 202-353-1555
ND Governor Doug Burgum: 701-328-2200
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer: (202) 224-6542
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: (202) 225-4965
White House: 202-456-1111; 202-456-1111
House Budget Committee: 202-226:7270; firstname.lastname@example.org