An open letter to NH Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a plea for heroism in the face of DAPL intervention unf
December 5, 2016
Dear Senator Shaheen,
On November 16th, I was pleased to speak with one of your staff, Eric Waskowicz, in reference to various state and national energy issues including the Dakota Access Pipeline.
I expressed my frustration and distress at the dangerous and unjust treatment water protectors at Standing Rock had been enduring. Since that phone conversation, violence against water protectors has escalated and they are still without support or protection. What has been taking place in North Dakota at Standing Rock is a shameful and embarrassing blemish on our nation's history and President Obama's legacy.
No doubt you have seen some of the hundreds of videos documenting the violence and human rights abuses that have been perpetrated by police and DAPL security against peaceful, unarmed people at Standing Rock, some of which were documented by United Nations observers.
I am appalled at the videos being put out by Morton County Sheriff's Department still claiming water defenders were violent when it has all been documented on video, was seen live by millions of people globally and countless others since then.
“I pray that the peaceful and prayerful element of this is starting to overtake the violent faction and shutting them down,” [Cass County Sheriff Paul] Laney said."
The treatment of press and citizen journalists reporting police actions and violence has been shocking. The disregarded rights to freedom of the press and peaceful demonstration signifies a turning point that threatens the freedoms and rights we take such pride in, but perhaps, have taken for granted. We must grasp them firmly before those hard-fought for rights are stripped away.
Where are the consequences for these injustices? For the beatings? the strip searches? the weapons brandished in the faces of unarmed demonstrators? for attack dogs intentionally let loose to bite and rip flesh? for the use of military force against people in prayer? the use of physical and chemical weapons of war on the public exercising their right to speak freely? for spraying water cannons on praying people in below freezing temperatures for hours in darkness, throwing concussion grenades taped closed for maxium explosive impact, countless tear gas cans, rubber bullets aimed to harm while laughing? Who is the public supposed to call on when the police are those who are perpetrating the violence and injustice, blocking roads and emergency services in a lawless state? This is America??? Yes, this is America.
We have flooded the White House and state legislators with calls and emails. We waited for President Obama to take action, to defend the rights of those at Standing Rock, to defend our right to clean water, to speak out against the human rights violations and injury to those who have been maimed for life. We listened, but heard only deafening silence.
Finally, President Obama spoke yesterday. The Army Corps of Engineers denied Energy Transfer Partners the easement to drill under Lake Oahe. I thought that President Obama had finally faced the realization that a lack of intervention could result in further violence and unrest. This great man would not leave these proud and honorable First Nations people unrepresented, unprotected, their sovereignty disregarded - again. Not this man, our first African American President.
Today, I saw a photo of the first family and it said, "No scandals, no drugs, no impeachment hearings, no mistresses, no nothing!" and I thought, "No support, no response, no acknowledgement, no justice, no action..." and felt let down that President Obama, a wise and caring man, was going to leave office allowing fracking, more pipelines, climate threats and environmental disasters loom, the amount of chemicals in our drinking water raised to allow for more pollutants, fossil fuel subsidies, unjust police shootings go unchecked and now, for ETP to get away with crimes against humanity. He will not hold Energy Transfer Partners Chairman Kelcy Warren accountable for the war waged against innocents. He is going to walk away, leave these crimes unpunished while countless people are in jail for minor offenses like smoking pot. Where's the justice Prez O? Where is the respect, the hope and change?
Last night's celebrations were short lived. Within hours, Business Wire published a statement released by Energy Transfer Partners.
"As stated all along, ETP and SXL are fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe. Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way." (Image credit: WeAreTheMedia, posted on Facebook.)
From the Bismarck Tribune, "The companies building the Dakota Access Pipeline said they remain committed to completing the project and expect to do so without rerouting the pipeline despite a decision from the federal government that denies the Lake Oahe easement...The companies said the decision from the Department of the Army that ordered a full Environmental Impact Statement is a purely political action..."
Throughout the day today, reports have come in that the barricades remain in place, the drill and drill pad have not been removed, and that ETP fully intends to accept any fines placed upon them and drill regardless of permitting. We know that any fines levied will not be consequential to a corporation dealing with profits that make minuscule fines insignificant and laughable. It appears there are no consequences for corporate America.
Photos have surfaced of barracks being built at the DAPL site. ETP has every intention of continuing work and completing the drilling. The lack of response from President Obama, the Senate and Congress is very alarming. One might be led to believe that yesterday's gesture was merely to give the impression that it is safe for water protectors and veterans to head home for the holidays so the project can be completed. The unreasonable ban on drones through December 16th (which has actually been an ongoing effort by the FAA to enforce a no-fly zone) could be interpreted as discouraging surveillance to give cover for ETP/DAPL. To be blunt, we have all been deceived. I cannot imagine what has given the impression that after months of encampment, the region would be left unprotected. That everyone would accept the words of President Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers, happily beat their drums and dance on. (Photo credit: posted on Facebook by Olowaan Plain)
The lack of support, action and response to the needs of Americans in the face of corporate profits that benefit politicians is abhorrent. The Democratic election was the most misdirected and perhaps the most corrupt in our nation's history. The lack of focus on the needs of the people is what has led to the rise of Mr. Trump, the creature from the black lagoon, gathering all the swamp things into his confidence, seeking to reward his supporters with more oppression than they thought possible. To continue down this path, supporting unethical projects, creating a lawless society for the mega-rich and a nation in distress for the new peasants of America.
I find it hard to believe that President Obama wants to leave this debacle as his legacy, to be discussed and dissected in history books, a painful scar on his 8 years in office.
A vast amount of people in New Hampshire are watching, because our state government is a microcosm for that which is happening on a national level. Governor elect Sununu is the Trump of the North Country, already threatening to revoke same-day voter registration in our first-in-the-nation to vote state.
Senator Shaheen, to give support, we must receive your support and that of other Democrats in our state. This is not the time to play possum. We've had enough of the frackus quo. We are in need of strong voices to stand for the people, for clean air, water, food, energy, to save us from this climate crisis and to leave an inhabitable planet for those who will call us their ancestors.
We watch with great admiration (often in awe) as Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard rise above politics as usual. Public support for their positions on climate, energy and social issues is substantial and increasing. We are more than disenchanted with our legislators, we're disgusted and ready for change. That is why New Hampshire overwhelmingly voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary. We want positive change - all of us - regardless of party affiliation.
Granite Staters are tenacious. We fought the NED pipeline and we haven't given up on fighting Concord Steam. The fast tracking of the Concord Steam plant conversion into a fracked gas factory to serve the NH State House, state buildings and the Concord School System is beyond comprehension. The conversion will cost our state $26M when Green City Power is willing to invest $17M to upgrade Concord Steam. Our state cannot afford a $25M (updated to $32M and now nearly $45M) conversion at the cost of taxpayers when climate change and drought have left our dairy farmers in need of assistance.
Fracked gas in the face of a state-wide climate crisis? Why have you been silent on this? Why, why, why? You support energy efficiency. Our state capitol should be an energy efficiency flagship, a point of pride and prestige that shows our youth we honor the future they deserve, welcoming them to live healthy lives and have families in the clean and scenic Granite State. We cannot turn our pristine forested, wetlands, lakes and mountainous outdoor-lovers dream into a polluted, industrialized state that looses its charm and natural appeal to the sky-scraping towers of the Northern Pass or pipelines literally blasted through mountains and ledges of stone.
It would be refreshing to find you standing by our side without desperate pleas for help at home or across the nation, to raise your voice to those who live under the thumb of a corrupt Governor. Tulsi Gabbard spoke out from Hawaii and then went to Standing Rock. Why, why are you unwilling to open your heart to the public service you signed on to?
I appeal to you, Senator Shaheen, to implore President Obama to send the National Guard and any other troops needed to evacuate Energy Transfer Partners' Dakota Access Pipeline construction site, have the drill, drill pad and all of their equipment removed from Standing Rock and to fiercely guard that territory from the destructive path of DAPL.
Right now, the American people are in crisis. We need more heroes to speak out, not from the periphery, but with resolve, out front for all to see and hear. Voices with confident, self-assured willingness to be more than mediocre, to be something extraordinary, to be a true representative of the people.
It was Senator Ayotte who spoke first in opposition to the NED pipeline, and I have been truly thankful to her for taking that stance when we needed her. She too, has chosen to speak truth to power, to go against the grain of her party, speak her conscience, to support climate action when others have not agreed. I commend her for that and hope she will show great leadership in the Republican party, because climate change isn't a partisan issue.
I ask you, Senator Shaheen, to speak first this time. Demand action, tell President Obama that allowing ETP to drill under Lake Oahe is fundamentally wrong and a deliberate and willful act against the people of the United States. He must hold Kelcey Warren and Energy Transfer Partners responsible and prosecute for war crimes against American citizens - corporate terrorism. If he, the leader of our nation does not prosecute, then he, Barack Obama, is complicit in these crimes. I have to believe that he is a better man than Kelcey Warren.
I humbly ask that you consider the magnificent and honorable effort that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have undertaken peacefully, successfully, with great respect, and ask President Obama to follow through, protecting the water millions of people will drink and holding Kelcey Warren and Energy Transfer Partners responsible for the harm they have inflicted. THE WORLD IS WATCHING. Please, show them we are the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
With respect and appreciation,
Stephanie A. Scherr
SENATOR SHAHEEN, I ask you to appeal to President Obama to:
- Protect the people of Standing Rock from the continued presence and actions of Energy Transfer Partners, Dakota Access Pipeline and its employees, the militarized Morton County Sheriff's Department and direct them to protect indigenous people and their supporters from locals who are threatening or violent. - Send the National Guard to Standing Rock to forcibly remove DAPL construction equipment, drill, drilling pad and all employees and stay to keep them from returning to carry out their plan to defy the Army Corps of Engineers and drill under Lake Oahe. - Prosecute Energy Transfer Partners/DAPL Chairman Kelcey Warren for war crimes. - Prosecute Energy Transfer Partners and Chairman Kelcey Warren for acts of war by DAPL mercenaries that permanently maimed Vanessa Dundon by hitting her in the eye with a rubber bullet, causing her retina to be severed in her right eye, which she has lost sight in. - Prosecute Energy Transfer Partners and Chairman Kelcey Warren for acts of war by DAPL mercenaries that permanently maimed Sophia Wilansky by hitting her in the arm with a concussion grenade that caused her to lose large pieces of bone, muscle, tendon and nerves, rendering her permanently maimed and under threat of having her arm amputated. - Prosecute Morton County Sheriff's Department and Sheriff Kyle Kerchmeier for war crimes, deliberate and violent actions against peaceful, unarmed people to include: beatings, mace, imprisonment without bail, strip searches, holding prisoners in dog cages, not allowing contact with legal counsel, numbering prisoners on their arms, and other offenses. - Prosecute Morton County Sheriff's Department and Sheriff Kyle Kerchmeier for suppression, restriction and refusal to allow the right of freedom of the press by professional and citizen journalists and for arresting those filming police. - Prosecute Morton County Sheriff's Department and Sheriff Kyle Kerchmeier for deliberate lies to press and federal law enforcement regarding the acts of war on Sunday, November 20th, 2016 to include using a water cannon on unarmed, peaceful people in below freezing temperatures for hours throughout the night, mace, mace in the water cannon, "flash-bang" concussion grenades and rubber bullets targeting people with intent to harm and harm caused, hypothermia and other injury to water protectors, jamming cell phones to prevent live feeds of police actions, blocking roads and keeping emergency vehicles from entering the camp, further endangering lives, refusing to serve and protect those in need, leaving them with no one to call for protection and assistance. - Prosecute Energy Transfer Partners and Chairman Kelcey Warren for deliberate lies to press and federal law enforcement regarding the acts of war on Sunday, November 20th, 2016 to include using a water cannon on unarmed, peaceful people in below freezing temperatures for hours throughout the night, mace, mace in the water cannon, "flash-bang" concussion grenades and rubber bullets targeting people with intent to harm and harm caused, hypothermia and other injury to water protectors, jamming cell phones to prevent live feeds of police actions, blocking roads and keeping emergency vehicles from entering the camp, further endangering lives.
- Prosecute TigerSwan Security for acts of war on Sunday, November 20th, 2016 to include using a water cannon on unarmed, peaceful people in below freezing temperatures for hours throughout the night, mace, mace in the water cannon, "flash-bang" concussion grenades and rubber bullets targeting people with intent to harm and harm caused, hypothermia and other injury to water protectors, jamming cell phones to prevent live feeds of police actions, blocking roads and keeping emergency vehicles from entering the camp, further endangering lives.
- Prosecute Governor Jack Dalrymple for acts being complicit in acts of war on Sunday, November 20th, 2016 and not intervening on behalf of ND citizens and all others peacefully assembled at Standing Rock, to include using a water cannon on unarmed, peaceful people in below freezing temperatures for hours throughout the night, mace, mace in the water cannon, "flash-bang" concussion grenades and rubber bullets targeting people with intent to harm and harm caused, hypothermia and other injury to water protectors, jamming cell phones to prevent live feeds of police actions, blocking roads and keeping emergency vehicles from entering the camp, further endangering lives. - Free Red Fawn, held as a prisoner of war.
Original post and comments are on ECHOaction.org.