It’s Time for Members of Congress to Show Up and Stand Up for Standing Rock

Tomorrow, members of Congress will have an opportunity to show up and stand up for Standing Rock.

Wednesday’s Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing sounds like a snoozefest — “Modernizing Energy and Electricity Delivery Systems: Challenges and Opportunities to Promote Infrastructure Improvement and Expansion ” — but witnesses for this hearing include Chad Harrison, the councilman at large for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and Joey Mahmoud, the project director for the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Have no doubt: The injustices taking place at Standing Rock this very minute will certainly be on the agenda.

Last week, the U.S. Army indicated it will grant the final permit to complete construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. This decision comes in response to a January 24 presidential memorandum encouraging the Army Corps of Engineers to override environmental review and speed up pipeline construction. The company building the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, hasn’t wasted any time. Drilling resumed last week while a federal judge in Washington, D.C., yesterday denied the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for a temporary injunction to halt the company’s construction of the pipeline.

So it is safe to assume that the lack of meaningful tribal consultation, short-circuiting of legally required environmental review, and failure to provide proper notice to Congress around Standing Rock are fair game for Wednesday's hearing. But members of Congress should also address the federal government’s failure to protect the constitutional and human rights of Native American water protectors and others assembled at Standing Rock in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Last Friday, the ACLU renewed its ask that the Department of Justice investigate law enforcement’s use of force and militarized response against Standing Rock protestors. We know law enforcement have used armored vehicles, automatic rifles, sound cannons, water cannons, and other offensive military weapons and equipment in possible violation of the Constitution and federal laws. We also asked DOJ to send federal observers to Standing Rock, echoing a request from members of Congress to protect protesters from civil rights and civil liberties abuses.

 Last Friday, we learned that the federal government has intervened, but not as we have asked. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation  Joint Terrorism Task Force are investigating water protectors and other activists at Standing Rock. The FBI began contacting organizers in the weeks that followed the inauguration.

Unfortunately, this is disturbing, but not surprising. We know the FBI has surveilled the Black Lives Matter movement, too.

There is a lot to talk about on Wednesday. To ensure there’s a robust discussion, here are three questions that members of Congress should ask themselves and witnesses:

  1. Will you stand up and defend the tribal sovereignty of the Standing Rock Sioux including the protection of sacred burial sites and access to safe and clean water?
  2. Will you stand up and demand that DOJ investigate possible civil rights violations at Standing Rock?
  3. Will you stand up and call for an end to the FBI’s unwarranted surveillance of an indigenous-led non-violent movement?

When it comes to Standing Rock, the world is watching. Tomorrow is the time for members of Congress to let their constituents know on the record whose side they’re on. 

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Anonymous

Lies! Lies! Lies! how do you know when the ACLU is lying? When it opens its mouth or when it opines and Op-ed piece. To them everything is unconstitutional unless it's a radical left-wing policy.

Anonymous

If you have nothing nice to say, don't say it.

Julie

What evidence do you have to support your claim that the ACLU is lying?

Anonymous

This is not amusing anymore.

When you have not one shred of evidence to counter an argument, please stop yelling "Lies" or "You were bought out!"

Dana

Yes, please cite your sources proving ACLU is all lies.

Anonymous

oh shut up

Ricki Ingersoll

Anyone that is such a coward as to call people Liers without identification is truly a piece of scum hiding behind an evil mask!

Dave Martin

There are plenty of valid points Anonymous (1) could have made. The first being why did The Standing Rock tribe refuse to participate during the permit review process. The second being about demonstrators acts of vandalism, assaults, illegal restraint of critical reporters and illegal encampments on public and private land as well as trespassing. That pipelines are lower environmental risk than trucking or rail transport. This is such an obvious attempt at extortion by the Standing Rock tribe participants I can't understand why the ACLU would waste time, resources and credibility by joining this effort. I am an ACLU member but there are so many more important battles to fight, why do you squander your resources on such a ridiculous case?

Anonymous

Dave Martin-if there was vandalism, assault & battery, etc. which were committed by the anti-pipeline protesters, then the protesters should be arrested & if convicted sent to jail. American Indian or Native American cause is not helped when these things happen. That said, we need to cut down on pollution. We need to save fossil fuels & coals. President DJ Trump is wrong to promote coal & fossil fuels such as natural gas, because we need to save the fossil fuels. I support nuclear/atomic energy & I also support geothermal, hydroelectric dams. With global warming, it’s possible that global warming would still be happening naturally. Yes, there’s ideology on the global warming topic. But we’re better off w/o pollution & we’re better of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

I compare global warming to the tobacco & emphysema. Some people get emphysema because they have bad genes and some people get emphysema because they smoke tobacco. Then there are people who use tobacco their whole life, but do not die of any tobacco disease because they have good genes. But it’s better to not use tobacco. Not all smokers get emphysema, but if you smoke, you raise your risks of emphysema. Global warming discussions on pollution must be thought of the same way as tobacco. It’s better to not have pollution, incl. greenhouse gas pollution. It’s possible that even w/o greenhouse gas pollution, that global warming would still happen, because earth’s temperatures would change regradless. But cleaning pollution is a good idea.

Sabrina

since the first white men came to this land they have pushed Natives off their home ground clear across the country, now whites are pushing Natives again for their rich land; the trumps get richer feeding on Native's blood; put that in your pipe.

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