Standing with Standing Rock

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One presidential candidate is facing arrest.

No, it’s not Hillary Clinton, although, with her track record, it’s understandable if you thought I was referring to her. This candidate faces arrest because she committed an act of civil disobedience. She did so to stand in solidarity with the water protectors of Standing Rock Reservation in their protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. She did so without thought of monetary gain for herself or a personal foundation.

Jill Stein of the Green Party is facing misdemeanor charges for spray painting the words, “I approve this message,” on the blade of a bulldozer that, earlier, had been used to bulldoze a sacred Sioux burial site. She did so along with others expressing their outrage at the loss of their sacred burial site and then being attacked by dogs handled by private mercenaries, who also sprayed the activists with pepper spray.

By traveling to Sioux land and standing beside a beleaguered community, Dr. Stein rises head and shoulders above her competitors for the White House. By risking arrest and taking time out to visit a remote corner of North Dakota, populated by an often-forgotten, marginalized minority, Jill Stein demonstrated she cares more about her fellow human beings than her own safety.

Can anyone truly say the same of any of the remaining candidates? What statement did Clinton, Trump or Johnson release the day the attack dogs bit a pregnant woman and sent a child to the hospital? How did these candidates show they stood with the residents of Standing Rock? Short answer: There were zero statements of support made by these three individuals. None of the three seem to worry about the quality of drinking water for 18 million Americans living along the Missouri River, let alone show concern for the health and safety of the Sioux.

Besides Jill Stein and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka (also given an arrest warrant for spray painting), only one other former presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, has expressed solidarity with the peoples of Standing Rock. Bernie issued a release stating:

“Like the Keystone XL pipeline, which I opposed since day one, the Dakota Access fracked oil pipeline will transport some of the dirtiest fuel on the planet. Regardless of the court’s decision, the Dakota Access pipeline must be stopped. As a nation, our job is to break our addiction to fossil fuels, not increase our dependence on oil. I join with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the many tribal nations fighting this dangerous pipeline.”

The Sioux have suffered immensely at the hands of the government. The United States Army in 1863 attacked and killed three hundred peaceful men, women, and children at Whitestone Hill. The descendants of the survivors of the massacre eventually migrated west, settling in what is now the Standing Rock Reservation. On the 153rd anniversary of the Whitestone Massacre, the builders of the Dakota Access Pipeline used bulldozers to destroy one of the tribe’s sacred gravesites. This burial site had been identified only recently and was brought to the attention of a federal judge in order to ask for a stay on pipeline construction to give the tribe time to study and survey the site.

The Dakota Access Pipeline builders used the information provided to the court to locate and destroy the sacred site. It begs two questions: how complicit was the federal government in once again hurting a peaceful people and how can any voter continue to trust a government run by a duopoly that puts the profits of a private pipeline corporation above the health, safety and culture of its own citizens?

Jill Stein was willing to risk arrest to stand in solidarity with Native Americans confronted by paid mercenaries who used pepper spray and biting dogs on unarmed water protectors. Only Jill Stein made the trip to Indian country to listen to the concerns of the people of Standing Rock. Only Jill Stein deserves Americans to stand by her with their vote this November.

 

Cindy A. Matthews is a freelance writer, novelist and editor of Our Revolution Continues–The Bernie Blog: http://bernie2016.blogspot.com