Is there anything that shows the bias and prejudice in our current criminal justice system than, on the same day, seeing the acquittal of an all white group of men who illegally took over a federal facility and actively encouraged the potential use of violence while peaceful protesters who are defending sacred Indian land that is theirs by treaty get shot and arrested in order to allow big business to build a pipeline through their land.
The Bundy group was treated with kid gloves and were eventually arrested peaceably. It was a remarkable show of restraint by law enforcement that worked out in the end. But, because it did end so peaceably, it perhaps made it easier to acquit them. Those peacefully protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline have been met with a declaration of a state of emergency by the governor that mobilized the National Guard, allowed the use of outside police forces, and the deployment of militarized police vehicles. This a stark contrast to the treatment of the Bundy group that occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters.
The pipeline clearly crosses lands that that belong to Native Americans under an 1851 treaty. Of course, the US has violated that treaty many times but that is hardly a legal excuse to violate it again. The silence from President Obama and Hillary Clinton so far on this issue is truly shameful. It is especially galling from Obama who visited the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation back in 2014 and said, "I know that throughout history, the United States often didn’t give the nation-to-nation relationship the respect that it deserved. So I promised when I ran to be a President who’d change that -- a President who honors our sacred trust, and who respects your sovereignty, and upholds treaty obligations, and who works with you in a spirit of true partnership, in mutual respect, to give our children the future that they deserve." Yes, Obama has blocked construction on nearby federal lands and asked the company building the pipeline to voluntarily suspend work. But that is not enough at this point.
Hillary Clinton put out a typically wishy-washy statement yesterday that says, "Secretary Clinton has been clear that she thinks all voices should be heard and all views considered in federal infrastructure projects. Now, all of the parties involved—including the federal government, the pipeline company and contractors, the state of North Dakota, and the tribes—need to find a path forward that serves the broadest public interest. As that happens, it's important that on the ground in North Dakota, everyone respects demonstrators' rights to protest peacefully, and workers' rights to do their jobs safely." This is pretty pathetic but not unexpected from the ever-cautious Hillary. It would be nice to see Democrats as whole standing up to the oil-extraction industry and defending the rights and treaties of Native Americans.