Special to Native News Online
Published November 22, 2016
Editor’s Note: The following was written by Wašté Win Young. She was on the front line of Sunday’s major confrontation between the North Dakota law enforcement and water protectors at Standing Rock. This provocative account should be shared widely:
None of us went to provoke anything. Some people attempted to move debris and vehicles off Highway1806 that police had chained to cement barricades on “Backwater Bridge.” Law enforcement is the entity that tied these burned-out vehicles to the cement barricades on the bridge and have been telling the media that we are obstructing traffic.
From what I can see is the people got tired of the constant police presence, intimidation and media lies of traffic obstruction on 1806. I honestly wasn’t there when it began, but I went as soon as I heard and saw the commotion.
I went to document it. I was very conscientious and deliberate in my thoughts and I kept telling myself to remain prayerful and bear witness, which I maintained pretty well—all things considered.
Once you are in the thick of it, you see for yourself the police state oppressing and abusing their power… Smack talking, adrenaline rushes, teasing, taunting on both sides. There were people getting rushed by me, being carried by medics, semi-conscious, bleeding, shaking uncontrollably, swollen faces, in shock, shot body parts, bleeding…. These were and are life threatening injuries.
It really shocks; then angers you. It made me, in those minutes, question everything I was taught…. to love, respect, pray for–BECAUSE THOSE ONES PRAYING WERE THE ONES THAT GOT SPRAYED, TEAR GASSED, AHNIYA’D, SHOT WITH RUBBER BULLETS.
Law enforcement does not single out the smack talkers. They aimed water cannons, tear gas, flares into a crowd that was praying, into a crowd of medics, into sisters singing by the bridge. North Dakota law enforcement is indiscriminate in their abuse.
Something happens…to our spirits out there… Some drop to their knees in anguish and cry (as I saw many do. The overwhelming majority of us physically out there have the need to stand strong and protect the sanctity of our universe–or the good that’s left in it—for our babies. Our presence is vital—especially the mothers.
For me, I think a fierce mama bear armor comes on, maybe because of all the sheet I have seen and witnessed. I know I have to be strong for my children. This is our stand for Unci Maka.
Last night I remember being on the ground after I heard Ryan say, “WASH THREE INCOMING!!!!!” He hollered to me to run. The cops shot tear gas directly at us and it broke into three trails. We started running. When those canisters hit the ground, they started a fire… Some people tried to cross the river back towards the camp and we hollered at them NO!!! They started sinking and turned back.
The police tear gassed the bridge area so bad and kept spraying us, we couldn’t back track. People were panicked, started slipping on ice. People were still praying. My eyes burned so bad. Some native guy with army jacket on and my husband pulled me back by that burned car to safety. A medic asked me if I was okay. I said I was okay and I took a shot of water. I heard Kristen and Lindsey hollering for me, then my mom! (I didn’t cry though like when we see our moms after something bad happens: ‘MA MA.’) She asked where my kids were and if i was okay. I said my kids were at home and that I was okay. I just started walking fast… down the road. I was so pissed and angry. I just kept thinking that I needed to charge my phone and tell people what was happening. I walked all the way back to camp like George Jefferson. Goggles didn’t even work.
Cops were talking mad smack about Red Fawn, laughing then spraying the crowd. Aiming guns for fun. Not all of them though. When people tried to talk or holler, they got sprayed by a water cannon. It’s just surreal.
Wopila Tunkashila Wakan Tanka for watching over us and protecting us.
Wašté Win Young is Wichiyena Dakota and Hunkpapa Lakota from Standing Rock. She created a site to raise funds for the long winter ahead at Standing Rock.
The post One Water Protector’s First-hand Account of Sunday’s Attack by Law Enforcement appeared first on Native News Online.