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Message from Jason (September 2016)

Dear friends,

I hope this note finds you doing as well as possible. I want to begin by recognizing all of those who participated in any kind of action on September 9th. We cannot go in to much detail about the actions that took place on that day around the country. If we did, the newspaper would probably be rejected from many prisons. I do want to honor the brave organizing that took place. I know some Black and Pink members took part. There has been some major media attention to what prisoners did. All of us should remember the events that took place at Attica prison in 1971. We must remember that the government killed 43 people when they retook Attica, 33 prisoners and 10 guards. The actions on September 9th showed incredible bravery. Without risk, change is not likely. We are in solidarity with all people resisting prison violence and exploitation.

There has been some other pretty amazing resistance in the news lately. Have you been following what is happening with the Dakota Access Pipeline? There has been some incredible resistance coming from Indigenous people from all across the country. Leaders and members of Indigenous nations have been coming together to stop the Army Core of Engineers from giving permission to a group of companies that are stealing land to build the pipeline. The primary company that owns the pipeline is called Energy Transfer. The company is run by Kelcy Warren, who is a multi-billionaire from Texas. He is planning to make enormous amounts of money off of the pipeline. The pipeline would move oil that is drilled in North Dakota all the way down to the Gulf. The pipeline would go through burial grounds and holy land of many Indigenous people, but in particular the Hunkpapa Lakota and Yanktonai Dakota people. The current encampment began with people from the Standing Rock Indian Reservation and has grown to include countless other nations and tribes. In the middle of September a call was made for all Indigenous people to come to the encampment in solidarity. Palestinians, Aboriginals, and other First Peoples arrived at the encampment to show their support. The power and strength of the resistance is beautiful, they are already winning some major victories. As the saying goes, direct action gets the goods.

While the current encampment, or prayer camp as people are calling it, is getting a lot of attention right now, the resistance to this pipeline is not new. Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribal government have been in the federal courts fighting against Energy Transfer since 2014. The pipeline was originally supposed to cross the Missouri river just north of of the capital of North Dakota, Bismark. According to a report on Indian Country Today, “The route was changed to cross north of Standing Rock instead because they weren’t willing to put largely white Bismarck’s drinking water at risk. Apparently it’s ok to put Native people’s water at risk though.” Even as the peace camps continue to grow, over 4,000 people camping out, others are still fighting to secure victories in the courts and with the federal government. After the media highlighted the violent attacks by a private security force against Indigenous protestors, during which the security force sicced dogs on the people, the federal government released a statement requiring a review of the situation. While a review and an investigation is not a complete win, it shows that the resistance is working and the people are winning.

The peace camp resisting DAPL is the largest gathering of people Indigenous to North America in centuries. It is the first gathering of all seven bands of the Lakota people since the defeat of Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn. As people build the protest encampment they are also offering meals to the thousands gathered, providing healthcare, and even running a school for children. Whenever people fight for their right to safe water, sovereignty, and the ability to live free from violence, we must align in that struggle. We are striving to create a world where we do not keep people in cages. The United States government has created giant cages out of the reservations that Indigenous people have been relegated to. As abolitionists, we must be willing to connect our struggle with this one. We build our movements together knowing that once there were no prisons, that day day will come again.

In loving solidarity,

Jason

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