If you’ve heard anything about Line 3 in the past week, it’s probably about the acceleration of brutal and inhumane treatment of Water Protectors by police.
Tara Houska, who was hit multiple times by rubber bullets this week, was interviewed on Democracy Now! about how police violence has escalated and why she still persists in spite of it:
[I]f it takes seeing Indigenous bodies being brutalized to understand what is really occurring in real time, what is happening to the people as we are defending these last places, that’s what I’m willing to do. And that’s what many, many others are willing to do. I was just one of many people who were hurt. I was put in solitary confinement. I was denied medical care, after being hospitalized when I got brought in. We, as human beings, have to decide what we’re going to do. And some of us are pushing as hard as we can with everything that we can.
In return, Enbridge has now paid out more than 1.7 million dollars to various police agencies in Minnesota for their services.
There are a couple things worth considering about this.
The first is it’s worth remembering that during the confrontations at Standing Rock, police and security firms regarded Water Protectors as terrorists, with one firm describing them as “an ideologically driven insurgency with a strong religious component”.
Given this view of the world, inhumane treatment from police in Minnesota isn’t surprising at all: It’s just Guantanamo Bay starting to come home. The methods used by powerful countries to control foreign populations are always used against their own people eventually. Given how severely abusive America’s carceral state already is, it’s a much smaller leap than one might think.
This process is aided by the fact that Indigenous people are so often considered “foreign” in their own homelands. (Reminder: they were here first.) I wrote back in April about how racism smuggles poisons into society, and it applies to state violence just as much as fossil fuel projects. It’s much easier for the worst aspects of our government to expand their powers and capabilities by targeting people who are invisible to most of the country.
But if the struggles and suffering of Indigenous peoples go unseen, all kinds of horrible things can grow. And by the time they come for other parts of society, they will be much, much harder to stop.