As a citizen of the United States, the situation in North Dakota is extremely concerning. While I am tracking the motions that have been taking place in the courts, more so I am shocked our federal government including the DOJ is not more involved in protection of Native American people who are standing for the land and the water. I heard now the U.N. is on site investigating, so perhaps the situation will improve.
First, the Dakota Access Pipeline company has taken a number of liberties not granted to them, and while the legalities are being determined in the court system regarding this, the civil rights of a protected class of citizens must be given versus completely disregarded.
And while I understand police would be placed near the site to protect and mitigate both sides from further harm; it appears from video footage that the Native American citizens' civil rights including their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, have been deterred. Unfortunately, it also appears that excessive force is being used in arrests. Further rights, such as the freedom of journalists to be able to report on the issue, are also being defeated by the unwarranted arrests of these reporters for infringements such as “inciting a riot,” which are not later proven in the courts.
Most importantly, the inhumane treatment on protesters by both Dakota Access and by the police employed, as shown in the many videos, is beyond my comprehension as an American citizen. The force and tactics the Dakota Access company has employed including destroying sacred burial grounds and injuring citizens and animals should be reviewed for criminal conduct (perhaps it is being so reviewed). I am shocked by what I see in the video footage and by what I am reading about of those being arrested or roughly treated - Grandmothers literally pulled out of ceremonies, the hurting of children, and the breaking ceremonial tools. My friends are on site, sharing first-hand accounts. These actions are completely unacceptable.
Furthermore, it is unclear why a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is not required for such a project. Due to the inherent risk that pipelines’ carry, it does not make sense that an exception to the EIS process would be warranted. I have attempted to research this further, as I understand there are many regulations I am not familiar with, including the laws on this topic. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) information found on-line regarding the EIS process is vague and high-level only, not explaining exceptions. Regardless, if this type of pipeline project meets the formal exception allowances, this puts this aspect of EPA as a protective governmental agency into question, given the risks involved.
It is also apparent and being admitted that pipeline companies target less populated areas for projects such as pipelines in an effort to produce least effects on society. However, oftentimes these same areas are low-income areas and the land, water and people are still and often quite negatively affected. People in these areas oftentimes have less opportunity to protect themselves; protection our government is then supposed to supply (not tolerating or even fostering abuses).
Overall, if more is not done quickly to protect our countries’ citizens, it unfortunately appears that the United States of America has lost its semblance of “justice for all” and oil companies have bought our government. I share this as the point of view of some of the most educated friends and colleagues I have. I personally will not give in to this idea. Instead, I will do what I can as a citizen to demand an immediate halt of excessive force and the deterrence of civil rights at Standing Rock and other sites, and then an immediate investigation on what has already occurred. While some of the primary news media has not focused their stories on this situation, there are many more of us, intelligent, hard working citizens in our country, who are aware of what is occurring and are extremely concerned. Frankly, I believe Standing Rock is just the catalyst of the stand for the rights of people, land and water.
[This post was added on 11/01/2016 the day I signed the petition. This information headed the blog post on Facebook: I’ve attached two links to the Earth Justice site, one that includes an outline of the legal events and motions occurring and another for the link to the petition. I urge you to sign the petition. Basic civil rights are being completely disregarded and extreme force is being used. There is simply no excuse for these actions. The last link is to my blog, on which I share the personal comment I included with my petition.