We Are Not Terrorists

I usually don’t know what I will be led to write about when I sit in silence in front of the computer. Several days ago I received a text message that the charges against Chase Iron Eyes, related to the Dakota Access Pipeline struggle, had been dropped. That message had a link to the powerful video below, describing how the charges to incite riot were made against him. He says “it only takes a spark, a little spark, to light up the darkness.”

“A dangerous trend has emerged in Trump’s America: Activists are targeted by law enforcement and treated like terrorists. Currently, 20 states have passed or are considering legislation that would curtail our rights to protest environmental destruction and human rights violations.”  Lakota People’s Law Project

It has been clear since the unrest in Ferguson when Michael Brown was killed that domestic police forces were being militarized without us realizing it. Along with that has been the trend to criminalize dissent and threaten civil liberties.

The First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March begins this weekend. I haven’t been thinking of this as a protest, but in this political climate I could see law enforcement saying it is.

You can have the following letter sent by entering your information at:   https://www.lakotalaw.org/our-actions/we-are-not-terrorists

Dear Mr. President,

Since you took office, I have watched America diminish and become a danger to the world. From pulling out of the Paris Accord, to opening formerly protected sites to drilling and extraction, to ramming through an order expediting the Dakota Access pipeline’s passage near the Standing Rock Reservation, your decisions consistently lead us toward harm. Climate change is not a hoax, and making sure your grandchildren have a habitable world to live in is far more important than increasing the profits of your friends in the oil business.

Given the grave danger you are causing for future generations, is it any wonder that so many feel moved to speak out against you?

Thankfully, we live in a nation founded on freedoms. The First Amendment of the Constitution allows for and prioritizes the need for dissent. It protects even the abhorrent expressions of white nationalist fervor you failed to adequately condemn in Charlottesville. And it certainly protects the rights of people to vocally oppose dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure.

Now, however, on your watch, those freedoms are disappearing. In 20 states, legislators have passed or are considering 30 different laws that, in one way or another, curtail our freedoms to assemble and speak freely. The situation is so urgent that the United Nations’ Office for Human Rights has petitioned the State Department to take action.

Simultaneously, our Defense Department’s reliance on private militarized security companies has increased tenfold since the early 1990s, and now these guns-for-hire are operating within our own borders for the first time. We remember Blackwater from Iraq. Private military contractors helped give us Abu Ghraib. Our use of them violates the 1989 United Nations Mercenary Convention. They should have no place anywhere, and certainly not on our home soil.

As illustrated by mercenary security firm TigerSwan’s profiling of Standing Rock protesters as “religiously-motivated jihadists,” US citizens are now being treated like terrorists for exercising their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. This is “making America great again”?

Never has the country been so divided. Never have we been such a laughingstock on the world stage. Never have we failed so completely to lead—or even to follow the correct path. Every nation on the face of the planet but us is participating in a basic agreement to address climate change because doing so is essential to our survival as a species.

Those who exercise their First Amendment rights to assemble and speak in defense of the earth must not be treated like terrorists. Not on our watch.

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