Firsthand account from Standing Rock

“Have you heard about all this fake news stuff on facebook? Isn’t that horrible?” asked the woman on the BART train last night.

“Totally,” her companion answered, and added “like all this stuff about Standing Rock. They’re not reporting the truth at all.”

standing-rock-activistsMy friend Kelsi just got back from the camp there, so I was curious what they had to say. The guy continued “My sister’s friend lives in Bismark and says that the protesters are really violent. They march through town with severed pigs heads on poles and stuff. She’s super scared to walk to her car every night and has asked her work to provide security for them.”

I was flabbergasted. This went against every bit of news I’d read from reliable sources, and could not have been more different from Kelsi’s firsthand experience. She spoke of families and children, elders, cooperation, acceptance, and shared dedication to a clear idea of justice. I dug around online and found an article about somebody putting a pigs head on a table at one point, but to use that image to characterize this movement strikes me as inaccurate to the point of slander. Or at least willful miscomprehension.

standing-rock-womenBut I’m not there. All I have is the evidence of others, combined with my personal experience among people who care about such things as the health and wellbeing of the vulnerable, versus militarized police who shoot tear gas and concussive grenades at peaceful protesters on behalf of billionaire oil companies who routinely lie and break the law themselves. And damn right I use the word “peaceful” for the dedicated people at Standing Rock.

But don’t take my word for it. My friend Kelsi’s piece on her experience at Standing Rock is here (click). And if her style seems familiar at times, I confess to helping her write it a bit. With pride. It’s an important piece of what’s going on with America today. An age when democracy is a fragile concept and the powers that be pay little attention to the good of the people they claim to serve. (Did I mention that Trump, Rick Perry etc are investors in the pipeline? But that’s a conversation for another day.)