Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Bull Connor Moment in North Dakota (with Update)

Update: This situation got even worse on Thursday (prompting more extensive media coverage.)  NBC:
Authorities used pepper spray and fired bean bags at activists demonstrating against a controversial North Dakota oil pipeline as the standoff there reached a new peak Thursday, according to officials.

Armed soldiers and police in riot gear removed the demonstrators using trucks, military Humvees, and buses Thursday afternoon, according to The Associated Press. Two helicopters and an airplane scanned the operation from the air.

NPR also has a report, though both of these appear to be based on Associated Press reporting.

It looked to be over, when Federal agencies requested the Dakota Access pipeline construction be halted.  A coalition of Native peoples were petitioning and protesting to stop the pipeline from endangering tribal water supplies and disturbing sacred sites.

 But it isn't over, because the pipeline construction wasn't halted.  It went ahead faster, and the protests began again, larger than before.

It's all news to me, as it might be to you, because nobody much has been covering it. Why not?

 Amy Goodman, national treasure, who has been reporting on it on Democracy Now, said:  I dare say the lack of coverage may be because this is a largely Native American resistance and protest. This is an under-covered population generally.

I'll say.  Because, for one thing, if this were a protest by another minority population--and most especially, in a city or at least a state not as remote as North Dakota--the police tactics alone would have made it front page news in actual American newspapers (as differentiated from where it is front page news, the UK's Guardian.)  As far as I can see, only the Seattle Times has been covering this with more than a single story.

Because on Labor Day weekend police and private security used pepper spray, mace and biting dogs. A couple hundred people have been arrested, including journalists.

  But it's the biting dogs.  Such a Bull Connor moment should have made the networks.  Police are investigating.

The Guardian report:

Leota Eastman Iron Cloud, a Native American activist from South Dakota who has been at the protests for months, told the Guardian by phone on Wednesday that she was present when private guards brought dogs and mace and went after demonstrators on 3 September.

“We are here in prayer, and they came for war,” she said, explaining that she continued protesting even after she was hit with pepper spray. “I can’t believe that people out there can actually do this to other human beings.”

In her interview with New York's Daily Intelligencer (linked above) Amy Goodman speculates on why the construction frenzy has gone on, but nobody really knows.  Maybe because not enough people are asking the question.

Meanwhile, there's the Guardian and Democracy Now.

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