The New York Times just responded to the police violence against Standing Rock protesters
The editorial board for the nation’s top newspaper just took a bold stand for the indigenous groups protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.
In a scathing editorial just over 500 words, the New York Times condemned the private security firms and law enforcement agencies working on behalf of the Dakota Access Pipeline builders for brutally attacking unarmed protesters. The Times‘ editors pointed out that law enforcement’s use of water cannons on nonviolent protesters in 20-degree weather, as well as its use of tear gas and deployment of “non-lethal” ammunition that injured approximately 160 protesters, has been widely disparaged.
The Times also tied in the current violence being carried out against indigenous people to historic patterns, and even blasted the pipeline builders’ indifference to a changing energy economy. The editorial board alluded to a video posted to the Facebook page of the Morton County, North Sakota Sheriff’s Department as an example:
The department’s video was meant to portray the protesters as dangerous troublemakers, but the photos and videos in news reports suggest a more familiar story — an imbalance of power, where law enforcement fiercely defends property rights against protesters’ claims of environmental protection and the rights of indigenous people. American Indians have seen this sort of drama unfold for centuries — native demands meeting brute force against a backdrop of folly — in this case, the pursuit of fossil fuels at a time of sagging oil demand and global climatic peril.
After pointing out the undue cruelty exacted on the protesters at Standing Rock, the Times called on President Barack Obama to make the most of the last two months of his administration and step in to protect the Standing Rock Sioux’s right to free assembly. Without executive action, the Times concluded that more violence against indigenous water protectors would follow.
Barring that, resolute protesters, a heavily militarized police force unwilling to budge, a company that refuses to consider an alternate route and an onrushing Great Plains winter — how can this possibly end well?
As of this writing, the New York Times is the only editorial board of a national paper of record to take a public stance in favor of the protesters at Standing Rock. The standoff has gone on for roughly 8 months, as indigenous communities argue that the proximity of the pipeline to the Missouri River would endanger drinking water supplies for not only themselves, but millions of people living near the Missouri River along the pipeline’s route — a position the New York Times editorial board has endorsed.