There will always be those humans who support the oppression of others, who grow drunk at the smallest dram of power. What the Morton County police did was unconscionable, a wholly disproportionate response to the situation.
But it didn’t just happen. The events of November 20th and 21st did not occur in a sociopolitical vacuum. The protest had been going on for several months at this point, and the responses from the police had been growing bolder. So, why did it happen the way it did? There’s unedited video of the event. You aren’t allowed to look away, to rationalize their actions as you otherwise might.
It happened because they were allowed to grow bolder, to escalate. No one stopped them. The Justice Department did not intercede. The constituents of the County Sheriff, the mayor, the representatives and senators–did not raise a hellacious tide of objection. It was there to be seen. Yet, where was the public outcry when and where it mattered most?
I’m going to cite the Stanford Prison Experiment to help illustrate how the police did what they did and justified it.
But what about the residents of Morton County? Of North Dakota? Of neighboring states? How did they “not know?” The uncomfortable answer comes from another country. There are others that happened here, but my example is better known and appropriately horrifying.
During World War II, the Germans operated a number of death camps in Germany and elsewhere. These camps were often located quite close to villages or towns. You could see the smoke from the crematorium smokestacks. You could smell the death. Records state as much.
And yet the citizens of these towns pleaded ignorance. How? Because they did not want to see what was happening. So they didn’t. Or, in the case of more than a few, the Jews had been so demonized and vilified, portrayed as the enemy of all that was good, lazy, wanton, greedy…that their mass incarceration and extermination was normalized. The Nazi plans for the Jews were well-publicized.
The DAPL protests have been going on for months. Even the unedited footage of police firing point blank into the crowd dummy bullets, concussion grenades, tear gas, and water cannons did not move some who still sneered at these protestors. They called them lazy hippies, animals, good for nothing’s who deserved this treatment.
Deserved. Let that sink in, please. Human beings deserved to be injured, maimed, traumatized, and shot with pressurized, freezing water in 20 degree weather.
Can you seriously justify that to yourself? Ask the Germans, who still work to repair the damage done to their cultural psyche if that makes any sense.
If you would like to review the live footage from the night of November 20, 2016, I’ve archived a wide selection of unedited live feed recordings and drone footage, here.