6 Reasons You Should Care About the Dakota Access Pipeline

You’ve read the headlines, seen the outraged tweets by your college friends, and maybe even have an informed opinion on this controversial issue.

Or maybe you haven’t, so let me break it down for you: What’s happening at Dakota Access is absolutely crazy, will affect everything from policy and the environment to 1st Amendment rights (that’s freedom of speech, bb), and hopefully make you wonder: “Why the hell are we still considering corporations more fucking important than people?”

Ultimately, it comes down to money.

Clearly, there is some serious shit happening on the front lines of this situation. So, in case you missed it, here are six crazy things that happened at the Dakota Access pipeline last week:

1. Police opened fire and killed a horse at the 1851 treaty camp.

Riddle me this: Why the hell would anyone ever need to shoot a horse? This isn’t a poorly written episode of Game of Thrones, and unless that horse was Zombie Secretariat come back to life on a mission to eat us all, there is literally zero reason to shoot it. I don’t care if they’re rubber bullets — that shit still hurts and can clearly kill people (and horses). Did I mention that an unarmed 15-year-old was riding the horse that was killed? Absurd.

2. Protestors were put in dog kennels, after having numbers written on their arms.

Read that again, but more slowly. Note to police at the Dakota Access pipeline: When you are arresting living, breathing, intelligent human beings for acts of nonviolent civil disobedience, maybe don’t round them up like cattle if you don’t want everyone else to think you are incredible assholes. (This is also where I will quietly allude to history…)

3. Someone legitimately shot an arrow at a police helicopter.

WTF? Beyond being utterly inefficient and ridiculous, this is particularly jarring as it’s an indication that the aggression is only escalating — and resorting to violence isn’t off the table for either side. Once the peace goes away in the practice of a peaceful protest, we’re all screwed — and so is the cause. Stay the course, people.

4. Buffalo have joined the protest.

(1) bisons from videobuzz on Vimeo.

Or American bison. Whatever. Either way, this is real life and it’s actually incredibly beautiful to watch.

5. Arrested protesters are getting strip-searched.

Sioux women, some actually girls still in their teens, with no criminal records, are being held for nonviolent crimes, and allegedly being forced to take off their bras and undo their braids (in case they are hiding weapons in them, duh).

The officers have no direct orders to do this — there simply isn’t any concrete protocol. The decision to strip-search — no thanks to Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Burlington, New Jersey — is ultimately left up to the discretion of law enforcement officials. Arguably, these types of tactics, in this particular situation, only serve a broader effort to dehumanize and, according to one journalist reporting from the Dakota Access pipeline, are “unspeakable in their attempts to humiliate and traumatize”.

6. Facebook users on a global level are banding together to fuck with the police.

After a viral post surfaced that the Morton County Sheriff’s Department was using Facebook check-ins to find and apprehend protesters, over half a million users on the site began to “check in” at at the Standing Rock reservation. The tactic was refuted by the Sheriff’s Department, which I find truly suspicious. Why go out of the way to refute a baseless claim that would otherwise have no impact on you? Seriously dudes, you aren’t going to outmaneuver a bunch of pissed-off millennials in a social media battle.

If it is true, it’s funny as shit to imagine the local police at Standing Rock running around looking for Carl College, who actually checked in the Standing Rock Indian Reservation while drinking a latte at a local craft coffee shop in Poughkeepsie, New York.

If it is just a viral rumor, you still can’t deny that the rapid-action and outpouring of support from Facebook users around the world is both utterly revolutionary and incredibly cool.

Whether you agree with the pipeline or not (seriously?!), it’s imperative not to ignore both the human rights violations and the explicit violence that are happening right in front of us. Do the ends really justify the means?

We live, undoubtedly, in a neoliberal society. However, when the casualties of this type of ideology are that human beings, the water they drink and the sacred grounds on which they worship, become commodities, then it’s time for a goddamn reality check. If that isn’t enough to make you have at least a mild existential crisis about the type of society we live in, then at least acknowledge that the militarization of police is fucking scary — I don’t know how else to put it. I am completely freaked out, and you should be, too.

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