Okay, I can’t sit on my hands anymore. I had to write something about the Standing Rock situation. This letter is a call-to-action for law enforcement who are moving against the water defenders at Standing Rock.
Dear Police Enforcers at Standing Rock,
I wanted to send out some heartfelt sympathy and a request to you, the men and women in uniforms and riot gear. I can’t imagine what I would do if my boss told me to do what you’re doing to the protestors. I honestly can’t. But since I’m the one in the house who takes spiders outside instead of killing them, it’s likely I would not be able to perform the jobs you are being asked to do. I don’t think I could.
I hear a lot about what the water protectors are trying to do. What they believe in; what their goals are.
But, I hear literally nothing, not even propaganda, from the large corporations who want the pipeline to proceed. These faceless conglomerates silently move forward, bulldozing all who stand in their way. They hired their own security companies and in essence have hired you, though you are not paid directly by them. They have arranged it so that you are taken you away from your homes and your communities to a conflict you may or may not sympathize with. I don’t know if you volunteered or were drafted for this duty. And I understand how upstanding law enforcement officers might come to “help out.”
I do get it. It’s your job. But at this point, after this past week of conflict, I’m asking you to think about what you are actually doing at Standing Rock. Please just think about it.
From out here, you look like pawns being used to escalate a situation. I’ve watched as you were outfitted with initially casual police wear, then batons, then masks, vests and riot gear, then shields and mace, then bigger mace cans, rubber bullets, and automatic weapons! You have been set out on a game board for a war, but those across from you will not play that game. Do you want to be the only ones?
Trust me when I say if the chips fall poorly for DAPL, those big corporations will not be the ones to pay the price. I’m fairly certain they will leave you all to the legal consequences of your choices. Perhaps you believe that you won’t be punished for any overstepping that might occur. After all, the Bundy’s got off, didn’t they?
But history has a long lens and five, ten, twenty years from now are you going to look back on your actions today and feel pride? Or shame?
I’m fairly sure none of you got into law enforcement because you wanted to mace Rosa Parks as she sat on the bus instead of moving to her “colored” seat. None of you want to be shooting rubber bullets at kids as old as the ones you may have at home. I bet any one of you would have been a courageous hero on 911 if you’d been in NYC on that fateful day.
I urge you to look around at what is happening right now. Really look at what you’re doing and thoughtfully consider the situation you find yourselves in. Sure, it’s easy for me to sit back in my comfy home in NJ and point fingers. But I don’t want to point fingers. I’m not here to criticize. I’m terrified someone is going to die out there. Perhaps a water defender, perhaps an enforcement officer. But its becoming more likely every day that someone will lose their life, and soon. I pray that doesn’t happen.
I am writing to warn you about the slippery slope your supervisors have placed you on. And to remind you that you don’t have to be there. You do have a choice.
Each water defender must choose every day to be forgiving, passive and tolerant. You also have choices with how you will address the situation. The escalation has not been your fault but you are caught up in it. You are the one who will have to live with your actions the rest of your lives.
I beg you, all of you who swore to protect and serve, think about your actions. You can stop the escalation. If you refuse to fight and the defenders refuse to fight, it is possible we may escape this conflict without a fatal casualty. Otherwise I fear Obama’s let’s give it a few more weeks policy only increases the chance of deadly bloodshed.
Don’t be the ones who, after the disaster, had the excuse that they were “just following orders.”
The power in your hands to help find a peaceful resolution. Please take it. De-escalate the conflict. Put down your weapons. Please.
Concerned in NJ