The Electronic Frontier Foundation released a report days ago investigating questionable surveillance during Standing Rock protests. EFF’s inquiry involved numerous law enforcement agencies, from the feds to Morton County. What was gleaned only highlights the disturbingly redacted capabilities of the police surveillance state.
“Following several reports of potentially unlawful surveillance”, an EFF blog reads, “EFF sent technologists and lawyers to North Dakota.” Investigators compiled “anecdotal” reports of “suspicious cell phone behavior”, unusual battery drainage, and applications or phones crashing entirely.
“Some water protectors”, EFF noted, also observed login attempts to Google accounts. After the intrusions the IP addresses were usually linked to “North Dakota’s Information & Technology Department”, EFF reports. “On social media”, the blog continues, “many reported Facebook posts and messenger threads disappearing.” Live uploads, and uploads in general, normally failed to complete or disappeared once processed.
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I regretted not having my computer and keyboard with me on this journey to Standing Rock. I knew that regardless of the notes I took and the promises I made myself to hold close to memory all of the things I wanted to share, much would be lost. Now, 5 days after returning home, that feeling is even stronger. I’ve meant to sit down and document the experience a hundred times since returning but haven’t done so until now for reasons unknown. I think part of the delay is feeling inadequate to the job along with the understanding that what I contributed to the effort is minuscule, in my mind almost insignificant and the juxtaposition of that feeling with the anticipation when we first started out is jolting. I have no idea where this narrative will go. I don’t plan to do very much editing and if it goes on and on and on and you choose to leave it behind, that’s okay! I can tell you I came home changed and challenged as if this is the culmination of 65 years of the journey so far. Here goes……
* If you plan to go to Standing Rock, be sure to check your ego and white self at the door when you leave your house. This is a hard lesson for many of us. It was humbling to say the least, to be in a community where my face and experience were part of a most noticeable minority; where my thoughts about what/how things should or should not go are absolutely meaningless and quite frankly, disdained by the native people who are on their own sacred land and IN CHARGE of every iota of planning, decision making and definition. I was reminded of the lessons I am still learning from Black Lives Matter – support does NOT mean leadership or decision making. Support means accepting that we are limited in our understanding and that often those whom we support have every right and reason to look at our faces and first see a historical enemy.
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‘What would you die for?’ The question isn’t heard often at the UN Climate Negotiations, but it did break into the halls of power on Thursday 17 November. It was posed by indigenous youth delegate Niria Alicia Garcia Torres.’Tell me, what is it you would die for? And what do you stand for?’
These same questions are guiding the hearts of protestors on the treaty lands of the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota, USA. Members of over 200 tribes and thousands of allies have gathered over the past seven months to oppose the Dakota Access pipeline, facing off militarized police, sound cannons, rubber bullets, pepper spray and attack dogs to defend their lives, land and water from a 1,172-mile oil pipeline, which they call the ‘black snake’.
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The struggle at Standing Rock, North Dakota grabbed the world’s attention for a time. It’s a fight which isn’t halting, even though signs of scale-back are beginning to surface. Among the many things Standing Rock’s resistance has reminded us of is Native American heritage, and its place in our country. It’s for these reasons that I’ve played the traditional game of lacrosse recently as a kind of symbolic support. Hoping to reach into the game’s old role as remote spiritual reinforcement, hundreds of miles away.
For those unfamiliar, lacrosse is a sport often compared to field hockey. It’s very different, however, and has been modified over the decades. It’s always required a lacrosse stick, which is a metal pole with a head and net on one end. Many players customize their sticks, and with endless marketed varieties each one is unique. Pads, helmets, and other things were added and evolved respectively as time went on. The original game, however, was bare skinned and gritty.
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