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Standing Rock violence confirmed

On Nov 23rd, the Star published the article “Show of support in Hamilton for Standing Rock Sioux.” I write to confirm that the police abuses inflicted on peaceful Water Protectors the night of Nov 20th happened as reported.
I was there that night, on the bridge. I’d gone to Standing Rock a week earlier and was working as a member of their mental health team. As darkness settled that evening we got a radio call requesting mental health support on the bridge. I and one of my colleagues, Robert Black Eagle (a Muscogee Creek), responded.
The scene on the bridge was horrific, something out of a nightmare. Water Protectors were on the bridge, and on the tidal flats to both sides. All were unarmed and peaceful – U.S. citizens exercising their constitutionally protected rights of free assemble and free speech. And the police – whose job it should be to protect citizens’ rights – were instead inflicting grave and serious harm on these innocent people. I watched, horrified, as a Sheriff’s Deputy trained a water cannon on a myriad of people, soaking them all in the sub-freezing temperatures. I watched, horrified, as round after round of tear gas canisters was launched and saw thick clouds of that poison gas engulf large throngs of people. I watched stun grenades being launched directly into the crowds. I watched as deputies shot round after round of rubber bullets directly into the crowds. And I saw dozens and dozens of peaceful people being injured, sometimes seriously, by the very  police whose job it is to protect them (including a young woman whose left forearm was almost completely blown away b ay stun grenade that exploded when it struck her – an Elder Lakota man who suffered a heart attack – a young Native American woman struck in the head and blinded in one eye by a rubber bullet – several people who were unconscious after being shot in the head with rubber bullets – and scores, literally scores of people drenched head-to-toe with freezing water and/or doused with tear gas).
This should not be. What happened that night was an outrage and a national disgrace – not to mention a violation of international law.
During my more than two weeks at Standing Rock I witnessed and lived the camp’s truth – that everything is prayer, everything is ceremony. I shared enormous love with beautiful people from across the country and around the world. I witnessed first-hand the horrific brutality of the police as they aimed military-style aggression against unarmed and peaceful people – and I witnessed and shared the universal coming together of a thousand “strangers” as the camp did everything to bring the wounded home and to tend to their sometimes severe injuries. Because of my experiences at Standing Rock, I have a profoundly deepened appreciation for the earth-centric wisdom of Indigenous Peoples around the world, who have never forgotten that we are stewards of the Earth, and not consumers of her.
May all of us remember to walk in beauty, and love, and truth. May we recognize the Oneness of all people, all beings, all creatures, and all things. May everything we do honor the earth on which we stand. And may we always protect and revere the Waters on which all our lives depend.
Mni Wiconi – Water is Life
Matt Gras
Hamilton

One Response to Standing Rock violence confirmed
  1. Larry Campbell
    December 7, 2016 | 4:18 pm

    Thank you Matt, for acting on your convictions and reporting back. Stay strong; I would guess some ideologues will angrily assert you are wrong about what you saw because they believe their pre-conceived ideas more than reality.

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