It’s definitely winter up here in the upper Midwest. The temperature is right around freezing, there’s at least 15cm of snow on the ground, and the roads and sidewalks are slick with hard-packed ice. And they’re using water cannons on protesters at Standing Rock.
This is not just cruel — it’s dangerous. I’m sure residents of the Dakotas are just as conscious of the risks of getting wet outside in frigid weather as we are here in the slightly more urban state of Minnesota. You just don’t do that. You can kill people in this weather.
And of course they’re using rubber bullets and tear gas, and roughing up protesters and throwing them in dog kennels.
She told me that they were arrested at a prayer ceremony lead by camp elders, and that she had been slammed to the ground by uniformed officers with shields and helmets that kept her from distinguishing whether they were law enforcement or national guard.
“It was three against one, that’s their strategy,” she said, “there’s tear gas in the air everywhere. They didn’t fire it directly at me, but it’s everywhere.”
I was told that when they were arrested, they weren’t read their rights until after they spent a day in jail.
Her description of the arrest matched my student’s description. She told me they were bussed to a facility where they were kept in dog cages with urine stains on the floor, pictures of dogs hung on the walls. Women were separated from men with chain link fencing and a tarp.
They said their phones and money were confiscated, the money seized and turned into procurement cards and calling cards, allegedly without consent. The balance was not returned upon release, she said.
The state of the jail uniforms made the women feel vulnerable, she said, and the tarp separating the women from the view of the camp’s men exacerbated that feeling. She went on to tell me they were strip-searched.
“It was just turn your head and cough, just spread your cheeks and cough, but they didn’t tell us what they were going to, so when the woman approached me with rubber gloves on, I braced for a body cavity search. It’s worse not knowing, you know?”
America! This is what we’re like before the orange fascist takes power. What’s it going to be like next year?
You can still donate to the Standing Rock Sioux, and they’re going to need it. It takes courage and dedication to confront this kind of oppression.