A Plea in Support of Standing Rock

This excerpted message from Mel Duncan went out to subscribers of Nonviolent Peaceforce’s newsletter (see the original).

The clearance of Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock is set to begin at 2:00 pm central time this afternoon.

Please call North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeirer and the Army Corps of Engineers to insist that law enforcement remain nonviolent, follow due process during arrests and treat all water protectors with the dignity they deserve.

Governor Doug Burgum: 701-328-2200

Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeirer: 701-667-3330

Army Corps of Engineers: 202-761-8700

standing-rock-camp_nonviolence-peaceforceTake a few minutes to  call them now.  The more attention we can focus, the less likely the violence.

The situation is highly volatile. Tensions are high and many people are fearful that that evacuation could become violent.

Thiago and Martha, NP staff on the ground, will accompany the community protection teamthey have trained and supported to the blockade outside the camp where they will monitor and provide a protective presence.  It is significant that the team is leading the action.  They will continue their protective presence and accompaniment as people are bused to Bismarck and to the county courthouse in Mandan.  The community protectors will be present in coming days to monitor and deter violence.

This weekend, NP will train additional people to join the community protection team.  In early March our team will convene multi-faith religious leaders to discuss their ongoing role in reconciliation.

The dramatic events of this week reveal deeper reservoirs of hatred, fear, trauma and racism.  We are helping prepare the community protectors to create space for long-term dialogue, truth telling and healing.  We have seen this approach work in places like Mindanao and Sri Lanka.  It can happen in North Dakota as well.  Long after the water protectors, armed forces and NP leave, the local people will continue to live together as a community.

Standing Rock is an early battle in growing conflicts around the world over water and energy extraction. Fighting for control of oil and water fuels the wars in Syria and South Sudan. NP is working in some tough places.  And the lessons we learn will help other communities to handle these conflicts with effective nonviolent methods.  Conflict will increase in the future.  It is unavoidable.  But we can equip people to transform these conflicts nonviolently.

Yesterday I watched a stream on Face Book as a Sioux leader gently told one of the Governor’s staff: “I wish you wouldn’t come and hurt people. If there is a line, where are you going to stop?”

Let’s help them draw the line where they won’t hurt people.

Thanks for your help and tolerating my jet lagged rambling.  Please stay close.

With hope and resolve,
Mel Duncan
Co-founder and Director of Advocacy and Outreach