It’s rather long (a couple hours) but well worth watching as a history of the 2016-7 Sacred Stone/1851 Treaty camp in North Dakota, US.
Things that struck me:
- The centrality of prayer throughout the protest.
- The overwhelming fear of the private securities/national guard/police. They cleared camps and actions at gunpoint, and had snipers in place throughout. Of course, there is the whole horror of militarized force used at all in civilian operations – but alongside that there appears to be the cast iron belief the security forces had that they were facing an armed insurrection.
- Not surprising to anyone but it should be noted; the willingness of state intelligence services (Fusion Centres – intelligence sharing between Homeland Security, FBI, etc) to collude with private security firms (TigerSwan).
- [Again no surprise, but…] The nomadic, cut-loose nature of private energy and investment firms like Energy Transfer Partners, who are responsible for the Dakota Access Pipeline. Despite injunctions, environmental impact assessments, and even a call by the then-President for them to halt operations during this time, they refused. Instead, ETP have filed what we would call over here in the UK civil lawsuits against seemingly everyone (including the Army Core of Engineers for obeying the first injunction) as well as protestors and reporters. You have to wonder a bit at the nature of democracy when private companies have more power than the President of the country.
- On a more positive note, the impact that solidarity groups such as the Clergy and US Veterans against DAPL had, working in conjunction with the First Nations protests. One of the key things we can remember about the American Civil Rights story, is how important faith groups were in the process.
Was/Is DAPL inevitable?
Ugh, the nihilist in me says of course – but the utopian in me says no. I guess that in any civic struggle we have this dilemma. All of the evidence points to the fact that somewhere, a group of financiers had rubber-stamped the Tar Sands-KeystoneXL-DAPL oil route a long time ago and there is bugger all that any country, politician, or citizen can do about it. This ties in with that ‘nomadic’ aspect of multinationals today – and we have to remind ourselves that this isn’t just a Trump-and-oil issue – DAPL and Keystone came about under Obama as well.
But we should also dillute this rather bleak view with a bit of hope as well ~ it’s been proven clear, time and again, that large scale civil resistence can change anything. It can change the law, it can bring down politicians and change governments.