Amnesty International to Morton Co. Sheriff: Halt dog attacks, armored vehicles, police assault weapons
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier Morton County Sheriff s Department 205 1st Avenue NW Mandan, ND 58554 28 September 2016 Dear Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier: Following the protests that took place at a Dakota Access Pipeline construction site on 3 September, we are writing to ask you to investigate the use of force by private contractors, remove blockades and discontinue the use of riot gear by Morton County Sheriff s deputies when policing protests in order to facilitate the right to peaceful protests in accordance with international law and standards. On 3 September, protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline construction moved on to private property in response to the potential destruction of land that was earlier marked as containing burial grounds and sacred sites for the local Native American tribes. After protesters had crossed a temporary fence onto the land where construction was taking place, video shows members of a private security firm use dogs and what appears to be Oleoresin Capsicum spray (OC spray) against several of the protesters before the security team leaves the premises. While the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board is reviewing the use of dogs by private security personnel during the events on 3 September, it is the obligation of the Morton County Sheriff to review the actions taken by private security in both the use of dogs and OC Spray against individuals at this site. Even though individuals trespassed on to private property in order to stop the destruction of potential cultural sites, law enforcement, in its obligation to facilitate peaceful protest, has a duty to protect peaceful protesters and not use the unlawful acts of a few as a pretext to restrict or impede the exercise of fundamental rights of a majority. The Morton County Sheriff should review the unnecessary use of force by security personnel on this day. In relation to the actions that took place on this day, Amnesty International USA has written to Morton County State s Attorney, Allen Coppy, calling on his office to drop charges of criminal trespass against Democracy Now! Journalist Amy Goodman. Miss Goodman was acting in her role as a journalist/reporter when she crossed onto private property in order to report on the actions of the protesters, construction crew and private security firm. Her trespass on to this property was clearly related to, even essential to, effectively carrying out her role of covering the protest and making information about it available to the public. We are calling on your office to support that request to the Morton County State s Attorney s office. A copy of the letter has been attached. Lastly, we are calling on your office to refrain from outfitting officers in riot gear when policing of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests unless strictly necessary. On 13 September 2016, after making arrests of at least 20 individuals who were trespassing on private land in order to partake in non-violent direct action against the pipeline, images that were circulated from the protest site showed Morton County Sheriff s officers outfitted in riot gear despite the lack of violence by protesters. More recent images from ongoing protests at the construction site show officers outfitted in similar gear, equipped with assault rifles and using armored vehicles to police protests. The use of heavy-duty riot gear and military-grade weapons and equipment to police largely peaceful demonstrations intimidates protesters who are practicing their right to peaceful assembly and can actually lead to an escalation in violence. Equipping officers in a manner more appropriate for a battlefield may put them in the mindset that confrontation and conflict is inevitable rather than possible, escalating tensions between protesters and police. Any police presence at demonstrations needs to be proportionate to the situation. Police deployed in larger numbers than appear necessary or deployed wearing protective clothing or riot gear can be confrontational and intimidating. As seen in many countries, inappropriate or excessive police interventions can actually lead to violence and disorder rather than reducing tensions. The U.S. government is obligated under international law to respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights of Indigenous people, including the rights to freedom of expression and assembly. It is the legitimate right of people to peacefully express their opinion. Public assemblies should not be considered as the enemy . The command hierarchy must convey a clear message to law enforcement officials that their task is to facilitate and not to restrict a peaceful public assembly. We look forward to your reply and would be happy to provide additional information as needed. Yours Sincerely, Margaret Huang Executive Director Amnesty International USA Note from Censored News: Thanks to Amnesty International for this statement. It is important that charges be dropped against Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, but it should have been pointed out that Cody Hall, Lakota media spokesman for Red Warrior Society, spent four days in jail on the same charge, criminal trespass, and Unicorn Riot livestreamers were arrested while livestreaming and jailed.
Mohawk Nation News \’Kukla, Oren and Ollie
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Leonard Peltier\’s Statement on Standing Rock
By Leonard Peltier
Lakota Greg Grey Cloud Free from Jail: Civil Rights Violated
Morton County violated civil rights of activist: A bogus warrant and a night in jail By Brenda Norrell Censored News MANDAN, North Dakota — Greg Grey Cloud, Lakota, is free after spending a night in Morton County Jail, when a misdemeanor warrant was suddenly changed to a warrant with no bond. The State of North Dakota and Morton County violated his civil rights. Greg was charged with criminal trespass for Sept. 3 (the day that the dogs attacked the water protectors.) The bogus warrant was not issued until Sept. 15. Greg said he was not present on Sept. 3. He turned himself in, in order to clear the matter up with the court. When he arrived, he was told there was no bond on this warrant and he was forced to spend the night in jail. The charge is a misdemeanor. Then, the Morton County Jail left Greg in a small, cold interview room until 4 a.m., after an interview with an attorney. Today, the charge was dropped against Greg, but with the threat by the court that it could be refiled. Greg spent the night in jail, where twenty-one water protectors were jailed, after being arrested on Wednesday by police who burst on the scene with shotguns and assault rifles loaded, and armored vehicles. Native American women, children and elderly, and allies, were in prayer for the water and protection of the burial places, at a work site of Dakota Access Pipeline. Although the media has misled the public into believing that DAPL halted worked on the pipeline, DAPL has instead continued work at an accelerated speed, ignoring an order of the court to halt. A court order from the DC Court of Appeals issued on September 16, 2016 states that DAPL is to stop all construction in a 20 mile buffer on both sides of the Missouri River. The State of North Dakota, and Morton County Sheriff\’s Office, have refused to enforce the federal court order to halt construction. Greg is an advocate for missing and murdered women. Please share your support with him.
Censored News 10th Anniversary! Celebrating the Collective
By Brenda Norrell Censored News We are celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Censored News today, Sept. 29, 2016. What makes me happy is that we have, in the words of Martin Luther King, overcome. We have overcome the censorship and oppression, and the lies and manipulations, of the media, corporate monsters, and sinister politicians. We are still here. We are still publishing with no advertising, grants, or revenues. Today our readers have multiplied, and today we passed the 9 million mark in pageviews. Ten years ago, I was a staff writer for Indian Country Today, where I had worked for most of the years since 1995. On that day, after being censored repeatedly, I was terminated. The editor had warned me, in writing, that if I did not stop writing about grassroots Native people, that I would be fired. On that day, I was on my way to the Indigenous Peoples Border Summit in San Xavier, on Tohono O\’odham land. With no place to post my articles, Censored News was born. Indian Country Today editors censored some of the greatest and most powerful voices in Indian country. This happened after the newspaper was sold by Tim Giago, Lakota, to the Oneida Nation in New York in the late 1990s. Those powerful voices that were censored included Buffy Sainte Marie, Russell Means, Louise Benally, Bahe Katenay, Lenny Foster, and San Carlos Apaches, just to mention a few. An interview with Buffy Sainte Marie was censored for seven years, which detailed how President Lyndon Johnson blacklisted her out of the music industry in the U.S., because of her stance against the Vietnam War and her song, “Universal Solider.” When the article was published, Indian Country Today continued to censor the facts about uranium mining on Lakota land at Pine Ridge. When Louise Benally, Dineh of Big Mountain was censored, she spoke out against the invasion of Iraq as it began, comparing it to the horror and tragedy of the Long Walk of Dineh. She spoke out at a time when few would speak out against America\’s bogus wars and the lies behind those wars. (See Censored article below.) Bahe Katenay of Big Mountain was censored when he described how oil and gas drilling were desecrating Dinetah, the Dineh Place of Origin in the Four Corners region. Russell Means was censored often. Lenny Foster was censored when he described how Leonard Peltier\’s rights were denied in prison. San Carlos Apaches were censored when elders protested for their water rights. Being censored always leads to personal hardship, even devastation, as detailed in the lives of those who survived McCarthyism. Censorship can also open doors unimaginable. Both were the case for me. After being censored and terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, the other newspapers I had worked for since 1982 also refused to hire me. With time on my hands, I was able to travel the West, and even to Mexico and Bolivia, to share censored voices, always scraping up just enough money to make it happen. During the past 10 years, thanks to Govinda at Earthcycles, Censored News was able to broadcast live and preserve audios of some of the great Native Americans of our time. We began our broadcast at the Indigenous Peoples Border Summit ten years ago. We broadcast for five months live on the Longest Walk northern route across America in 2008. Then, we were live at Western Shoshone, Acoma and Laguna Pueblos, Havasupai, Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara, and AIM West. We also broadcast from the Mother Earth Conference in Bolivia, and the Peltier Tribunal and Boarding School Tribunal in Green Bay, Wisconsin. In Sonora, Mexico, I was able to spend time with the Zapatistas when Marcos and the Comandantes came to Sonora, after traveling with the Zapatistas in Chiapas and elsewhere in Mexico through the years. It is, however, the collective that Censored News represents today that is its greatest honor, its greatest offering. Today Censored News is a gathering of the good hearts. It is a collective of the writers, photographers, translators and activists — who often pay out of their own pockets and share freely — so the world will know the truth. Today, Censored News belongs to all of them, and all of you, the good hearts who are resisting. Thank you for this opportunity to celebrate. — Brenda Norrell
|Dineh and Apache children in the prison of Bosque Redondo, Fort Sumner, N.M.|
About Censored News Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 34 years. She began as a news reporter at the Navajo Times, during the 18 years that she lived on the Navajo Nation, living for years in a log cabin in the Chuska Mountains. During those years, she was a stringer for AP for five years, covering the Navajo Nation and federal courts, and USA Today for seven years, covering the Navajo Nation. As a staff writer for Indian Country Today, she covered the Southwest. After being censored and terminated by Indian Country Today, she created Censored News, now concluding its 10th year with more than 9 million pageviews. Donate to Censored News