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Standing Rock Check-In Protest Should Remind Us Of All The Other Ways We Can Help


Image Courtesy of Chris Goodwin, Creative Commons

Here’s what the check-in protest was about and information on other ways to help and show solidarity.

You may have noticed early Monday morning that your Facebook newsfeed had exploded with posts that showed your friends or family had traveled to Cannon Ball, North Dakota to visit the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. How did we know? Because everyone who made the trip used Facebook’s “check-in” to alert us.

Only thing is, no one had actually gone.

It turns out that people across the country who support the #NoDAPL movement had used the Facebook “check-in” feature for two reasons. One, to show their solidarity with the resistance camp. Two, to “overwhelm and confuse” local police who, according to the instructions that went viral on Facebook, were allegedly using check-ins to “target” protesters. As specified in the post, this is one way the Morton County Sheriff Police Department have been able to identify the water protectors waging protests on the ground.

The Morton Police Department has countered this claim in its own Facebook post:

“The Morton County Sheriff’s Department is not and does not follow Facebook check-ins for the protest camp or any location. This claim/rumor is absolutely false,” Morton representatives said.

It’s not as if MCSPD would own up to their actions if they were using check-ins, anyway.

According to TheAtlantic.com, police departments do use technologies like Geofeedia to “track protesters’ posts, photos, videos, and locations in real-time.” In addition to these tasks, this technology can “monitor a wider sort of geo-tagged post than Facebook check-ins—such as regular posts that include location data on Facebook, Twitter, and other services.” Even though the authors of this article were unable to verify if any police agencies in the Dakotas are clients of Geofeedia, they did find the technology application listed as a “social media” tool in North Dakota’s state government IT department.

We don’t yet know the name of the group that organized this online effort. Earlier today, Snopes, which mocked today’s Facebook protest as a diversion from real, offline efforts to make material contributions to help the Sioux Tribe and advance #NoDAPL movement, reached out to the Standing Stone Camp for answers. Although SSC denies playing any role in organizing the tactic, they did admit to appreciating the result — a mass show of solidarity.

Last week, on the same day as the acquittal of the Bundy Gang, the Morton County Sheriff’s Police Department dispatched officers to confront water protectors. Heavily outfitted with armored vehicles, pepper spray, riot gear, assault dogs, and other weapons, officers arrested over 140 people.

Related: Bundy Gang Acquitted While #DAPL Protesters Are Attacked By Militarized Police

As previously reported here at Wear Your Voice, the Dakota pipeline is not only a violation of a century-old treaty agreement between Native tribes and the U.S., but the environmental risks of constructing a pipeline on this cultural site — which, if not stopped, would “move 570,000 barrels of crude oil from the Dakotas to Illinois” and contaminate the water body — are catastrophic for the native residents.

“Other tribal lands have suffered from water pollution as a result of pipelines siphoning oil from their rightful land” Wear Your Voice explained, “and the Standing Rock Sioux do not want to see their home and their people affected the same way.”

Aside from today’s big push on Facebook, or actually traveling to North Dakota to protest with Standing Rock Sioux, there are other ways you can help. A few of them are listed here, including donating money and supplies to the resistance camp and Standing Sioux Tribe,  contacting people who hold positions of authority but refuse to act (such as North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple, Army Corps of Engineers, or executives at Energy Transfer Partners), signing a petition to the White House demanding President Obama to stop construction of DAPL, and more.

What we should take away from the online action that went viral today is a reminder of all the things we can do to show solidarity with Standing Sioux Tribe and what we can accomplish when we put our collective mind together.

For more information on how you can help support #DAPL protesters, see PaperMag.com

Antwan is an educator, cultural critic, actor, and writer for Wear Your Voice Mag (WYV), where he focuses on the dynamics of class, race, gender, politics, and pop culture. Prior to joining the team at WYV, he was an adjunct professor in the African American Studies Department at Valdosta State University in southern Georgia, where he taught African American Literature. He has traveled the U.S. and U.K. showcasing a fifty-five minute, one-person play titled Whitewash, which focuses on the state of black men in the post-civil rights era. Antwan received his B.A. in English and Literature from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and M.A. in African American Studies from University of California, Los Angeles. He is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and NAACP theater nominee.

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