Saturday, August 18, 2018

'Last Child Camp' Judge Dismissed Riot Cases for Two Water Protectors

Last Child Camp, Standing Rock Water Protectors
Photo by Ryan Vizzions

Photo: Sacred Stone Camp founder LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, WPLC Staff Attorney Moira Meltzer-Cohen, defendants Andrew Weber and Christina Rogers, and Volunteer Attorney Patricia Handlin
after the dismissal of charges at a bench trial in Mandan, ND.

Court Update: After North Dakota Rests Case Against Two “Last Child Camp” Water Protectors, Judge Dismisses the Charges, Citing Rule 29

By Water Protector Legal Collective
Censored News

North Dakota Supreme Court District Judge John W. Grinsteiner dismissed misdemeanor charges of Engaging in a Riot and Criminal Trespass and entered a Judgement of Dismissal for Water Protectors Christina Rogers and Andrew Weber, arrested during the forced removal of Last Child Camp on February 1, 2017. A judgment of acquittal under Rule 29 of the North Dakota Rules of Criminal Procedure is warranted when the state fails to present evidence sufficient to sustain a conviction.

Rogers was represented by WPLC volunteer attorney Patricia Handlin, and  Weber was represented by WPLC staff attorney Moira Meltzer-Cohen. Both attorneys vigorously cross-examined the state’s witnesses, three law enforcement officers who were involved in policing and making arrests that day, but none of whom actually arrested either Rogers or Weber. None of the state’s witnesses could give testimony as to any conduct of the defendants, nor did the state present any video or other documentary evidence that suggested that either Rogers or Weber had engaged in any unlawful activity.

“In most places the state would not have proceeded with charges like these,” Handlin said. “We’ve had to fight every case, and we’ve won most of them in part because we’re diligent and good at what we do, but also because the cases themselves should never have been brought: there weren’t any riots at Last Child Camp.”

The state admitted into evidence an hour-long video that clearly showed the Water Protectors circling a sacred fire, praying, singing, and linking arms. Conspicuously absent from the video were acts of violence or tumultuousness on the part of Water Protectors. In order to prove that an individual is guilty of engaging in a riot, the state must show that they participated in acts that were both violent and tumultuous. The only acts of violence in evidence appeared on the video when police struck the Water Protectors to make them let go of each other so they could be arrested and cuffed.

“The video speaks for itself,” the judge stated.

Meltzer-Cohen views the state’s argument with respect to the riot charge as “the apex of an abusive discourse.” In essence, she says, the government argued that the Water Protectors brought police violence on themselves by remaining in their prayerful stance — “It’s like an abuser saying to the victim ‘You made me hit you.’”

“The theory of the prosecution in this case, that Water Protectors are responsible for the violence that was enacted upon them by law enforcement during their arrest is profoundly troubling. Its absurdity would make Kafka swallow his own tongue,” Meltzer-Cohen said. “I very much appreciate that Judge Grinsteiner would have none of it.”

Rogers, who is Ojibwe and Potowatomi, went to Standing Rock to become a Water Protector after the death of her infant daughter. Her arrest at Last Child Camp was her first ever.

“I was face to face with an officer,” she said, “and I told him that I had swum in a river full of tar sands oil, and maybe that’s why my baby was born sick. I knew I was going to jail for a right reason.”

The details of being taken to jail will stay with her forever.

“It was a cold day,” she recalled, “and the transport buses taking us to jail cranked on the a.c. and had the windows open. The drivers took the long way around; they didn’t have to, but they did. We were in zip ties, our hands placed behind us.” Rogers further described a number of indignities suffered by the women in her transport van, who were denied access to basic necessities in a campaign of humiliation and physical distress.

Rogers and Weber were arrested at the same time. “Within the arrest,” Weber remembered, “the officer yelled ‘You either come with us now or you go into the fire.’ … they started pushing us into the flames; they punched me in the face, and kicked my leg. For the rest of my life I will always remember that I Iooked into these men’s eyes and saw death. They wanted to kill us; and some of the other officers, were just in tears, like they couldn’t handle it—good people in a bad situation.”

LaDonna Brave Bull Allard was prepared to testify for the defense. Though she often sits in the back of the courtroom in support of Water Protectors and WPLC attorneys, this was the first time she was scheduled to offer testimony.

“I have been waiting for someone to ask me about jurisdictions, where the lines are,” she said. “I grew up on the Cannonball River. As a young person I could ride my horse to Fort Rice, it was never trespassing; that is not how we lived on the river.”

About the Water Protectors themselves and the attorneys who defend them, she said: “I can never thank them enough, never appreciate them enough, or give them enough love. To see them smiling when their cases are dropped, it is the greatest joy ever.”

Friday, August 17, 2018

Revolutionary Native Women Writers -- Twelve Years of Original Energies at Censored News

Ofelia Rivas, Kahentinetha Horn, Sandra Rambler, Debra White Plume, Michelle Cook, Buffy Sainte Marie, Louise Benally.

Revolutionary Native Women Writers -- Twelve Years of Original Energies at Censored News

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

Censored News begins its 13th year of publishing in late September. Today we honor the Native women who were the first to share their voices and work with us. In the beginning, Censored News was a humble effort to reveal what had been censored when I was a staff writer at Indian Country Today. Through the years, it emerged, growing organically, as a platform for Indigenous Peoples and global human rights.

Kahentinetha Horn, long known for her defense of Oka, was among the first to generously share her work with Censored News. When Mohawks came to the southern border in 2006 and 2007, a powerful solidarity began between the north and the south, including the Zapatistas when Marcos and the Comandantes came to Sonora in 2007. Living in her homeland at Kahnawake, Kahentinetha publishes Mohawk Nation News, sharing guidance and words from the traditional teachings and the Mohawk Warrior Society. Kahentinetha writes the history that she lives.
Debra White Plume, revolutionary thinker and writer, living on her Lakota homeland on Pine Ridge, has shared her writings since the beginning. As the founder of Owe Aku International Justice Project, Debra has fought for the land, water and people, fighting against uranium mining and corruption, and fighting for truth and in defense of the land and water. When the Lewis and Clark re-enactors arrived in South Dakota, Debra gave them a symbolic "blanket of small pox." Censored News honored Debra twice previously as our 'Woman of Year' for her resistance.
Ofelia Rivas, O'odham lives on the Tohono O'odham Nation, at the so-called border that divides her family's homelands in what is now Sonora, Mexico, and Arizona. Ofelia exposed the construction crew on the border barrier digging up the remains of O'odham ancestors. The ancestors were later returned to their resting place with ceremony. She also exposed the Israeli spy towers now threatening O'odham communities. She has led the resistance to abuses by the U.S. Border Patrol in her homelands, and now delivers food and supplies to O'odham south of the border who are cut off from grocery stores by new border crossing  restrictions and closures of traditional routes. When the current US government halted migrants at the border, Ofelia welcomed them.
Michelle Cook, Dine' lawyer, has been a voice at Censored News since the beginning, sharing her experiences as a university student, first at the border, then in Iran, and later as she traveled from New Zealand, where she was a Fulbright scholar sharing with Maori, to the Mother Earth Conference in Cochabamba, Bolivia. At Standing Rock, she founded the Water Protector Legal Collective, and co-produced with Govinda Dalton, Standing Rock Spirit Resistance Radio, live from Oceti Sakowin. Michelle organized the bank divestment teams of Native women to Europe, hosted by WECAN International, in the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The long censored words of Louise Benally of Big Mountain, and Cree singer Buffy Sainte Marie, finally became known when I was terminated at Indian Country Today in 2006.
Earlier, Louise Benally spoke out against the bombing of Iraq on the day it was bombed by the United States, comparing it to the atrocities of the Dine' walking, suffering and dying on the Longest Walk to imprisonment. Louise remembered her ancestors at Fort Sumner, Bosque Redondo.
Indian Country Today censored Louise's voice and refused to publish a retraction. Louise continues to resist relocation at Big Mountain, orchestrated by Peabody Coal, energy barons and politicians.
Buffy Sainte Marie was at Dine' College on the Navajo Nation in 1999, joining John Trudell and other great Native musicians in concert. It was here that Buffy described how she was censored out of the music business by two U.S. Presidents -- Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan. The US Presidents disappeared her shipments of records and told radio stations not to play her songs. Buffy's stance against the Vietnam War, and her song "Universal Soldier," made her a target for the war machine. 
Buffy's words at Dine' College were censored for seven years by Indian Country Today, Even when some of those words were published in 2006, the portion about uranium mining on Pine Ridge was censored by Indian Country Today. Buffy has generously shared her work with Censored News since the beginning.
Sandra Rambler, San Carlos Apache writer and photographer, was among those censored by Indian Country Today, in the struggle of Apaches to protect their land and water from politicians and corporations. Sandra shared the voices of San Carlos Apache elders -- the force behind protecting the land and water, sacred Mount Graham and Oak Flat -- before the elders made their journey to the Spirit World.
These revolutionary Native women writers and thinkers share the same love, tenacity and freedom of spirit shown by Che in South America. It is their willingness to sacrifice and arise that inspires new generations and generates hope.
There are no words adequate to express gratitude to these revolutionary writers, thinkers and organizers who were the first to share their words, photos, travels and clear thoughts  with Censored News.
Today, their voices are joined with Indigenous women from around the Earth, and their words of resistance, dignity, autonomy and self-reliance, without compromise, are translated into languages worldwide.
We say 'thank you' for your original energies. Your love, passion and clarity has steadily exploded into inspiration and movements in the homelands and around the world.

In memory of the children, Dine' and Apache imprisoned at Bosque Redondo,
during the Longest Walk.

Dedicated to my friends, Cate Gilles, journalist on Navajo and Hopi lands, and Leroy Jackson, cofounder
of Dine' Citizens against Ruining the Environment, who were both found dead.
Without their running ahead, and showing the way, this ongoing work would not be possible.
Thank you.

Mohawk Nation News

Owe Aku International Justice Project

Ofelia Rivas, O'odham, founder of O'odham Voice against the Wall

Louise Benally, uncensored on bombing of Iraq and the Longest Walk to imprisonment

The Blacklisting of Buffy Sainte Marie, by Censored News

Michelle Cook, divestment team in Europe. Read more at WECAN, International

Sandra Ramber, Apache, The Gift of Water and the Apache Burden Basket


At Censored News, everyone is a volunteer. Censored News has published for 12 years with no salaries, grants, or revenues. Please donate to these powerful writers. Contact Censored News for contact information for writers, Brenda Norrell, publisher: 

Indian Country Today was created in the mid 1990s by Tim Giago, Lakota, who never censored my articles. After ICT was sold to the Oneida Nation in New York in the late 1990s, the censorship began. ICT was recently acquired by the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, D.C.

Copyright Brenda Norrell, Censored News

Thursday, August 16, 2018

'Warrior Women' showing in Rapid City and top film festivals in 2018

 Warrior Women official entry at film festivals across the country in 2018, including the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco and more:

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Thank you, Brenda

Censored News is in its 12th year with no ads, grants, salaries, Adwords or clickbait.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Road Trip to Rosebud with Bad Bear

Photo Journey through South Dakota

Photos by Western Shoshone Photojournalist Carl Bad Bear Sampson

Thank you from Censored News!
Copyright Carl Sampson

Zapatistas Art in Resistance and Rebellion Gathering Now Underway -- Photos

Zapatistas CompArte in Resistance and Rebellion now underway in the Caracol of Morelia, Chiapas.
Photos by Enlace Zapatista


Theater, dance, guitar, movies and more now underway at the CompArte2018 in the Caracol of Morelia in Chiapas.