Cathy Cowan Becker
Tell Ohio Gov. John Kasich to recall 37 state troopers from North Dakota!
On Saturday, October 29, the state of Ohio sent 37 highway patrol officers to North Dakota to assist with security at protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which is slated to go under the Missouri River next to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. What does such "security" mean? It means trampling the rights of native Americans who have been subjected to human rights abuses from a militarized police force acting to protect not the people but a pipeline that directly threatens their water supply. Ohio taxpayers do not want 37 of their highway patrol officers to participate in this unconstitutional and unethical violation of Native American people's rights. We demand that Gov. John Kasich bring these state troopers back home now. Background The Ohio troopers headed to North Dakota just two days after police used pepper spray, sound cannons, concussion grenades, rubber bullets, and batons on hundreds of unarmed water protectors while clearing their camp on historically tribal land. Over 140 water protectors were arrested. Those taken into custody have reported that they were strip searched, had numbers written on their arms, and were housed in dog kennels with no bedding or furniture. According to Dallas Goldtooth of Indigenous Environmental Network: National Guard was used to clear the way for pipeline construction within 20 miles of the river where President Obama has asked that work be stopped. Men and women were pulled out of a sweat lodge ceremony at gunpoint. Private security forces had men armed with AR-15 weapons. Similarities to Wounded Knee had the potential to turn a peaceful protest into a major tragedy. The militarized police crackdown on a peaceful gathering of unarmed indigenous people in North Dakota happened on the same day as white men who carried out an armed 41-day seige of a nature preserve in Oregon were acquitted of all charges. Private security planes and helicopters were flying over the camp all day despite declaration of the area as a no-fly zone by the Federal Aviation Administration. Despite claims that water protectors were armed, the only weapons were in the hands of militarized police -- assault rifles, snipers, concussion grenades, batons, sound cannons, tanks, and more. Horseback riders were attacked by police on ATVs, resulting in one horse being hurt so severely that he had to be put down. National Guard humvees were onsite with snipers on top. As a result of the militarized police crackdown, Amnesty International has announced it is sending observers to North Dakota, and the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is sending a representative to the site. Video from the scene Police in North Dakota have unconstitutionally arrested journalists documenting the protests, confiscated their footage, and charged them with felony crimes. Despite these efforts, reports and livestreams from the October 27 police crackdown have been seen by millions. Here are a few: Report from Unicorn Riot showing police raiding the indigenous people's camp; several of their reporters have been arrested. Video from Dallas Goldtooth showing a water protector wounded from shrapnel from a concussion grenade, pepper spray into a group of protectors, and the arrest of tribal councilwoman Casey Camp-Horinek as she stood in prayer. Livestream from indigenous journalist Atsa E'sha Hoferer showing police raiding the camp. This brutal crackdown occurred just weeks after private security forces went after water protectors with pepper spray and attack dogs. Democracy Now reporter Amy Goodman and her crew were on the scene to record events. Officials charged Goodman with conspiracy and rioting; the judge dismissed all charges. Our demand Ohio police have no business getting involved in an unconstitutional abuse of human rights in order to protect a pipeline that threatens the water supply of a tribal nation in North Dakota. We demand that Gov. John Kasich bring all state troopers sent to North Dakota back to Ohio NOW. Photo credit: NBC News