Earlier this week our water protectors from Honor The Earth who are fighting to #StopLine3 released “No More Pipeline Blues” – a music video tribute from Bonnie Raitt and the Indigo Girls. It’s a stunning prayer and unique piece of art that hopefully will stir further activism in this battle to honor our treaties, protect critical natural resources and follow what science demands in our collective rebellion against the existential threat of climate change.
You will hear plenty about climate change today as everyone crams smart talking points into their annual Earth Day PR blitz. But if you watch that Line 3 film again, there are other characters featured that deserve far more attention from the climate community. There, amidst the beautiful snippets of tribal ceremony and aerial shots of the devastation already inflicted by the pipeline, are forces that are directly threatening our ability to achieve all of those bold climate commitments that undoubtedly will pour out from the White House Climate Summit over the next two days. Simply put, achieving climate justice is impossible without addressing law enforcement reform.
To date at least 150 activists have been jailed protesting Line 3, most of them proud Ojibwe women simply protecting sacred lands. That number may not sound too alarming, heck the Orwellian Operation Safety Net from here in occupied Minneapolis arrested about that many last Friday night alone during their siege of the peaceful protests over Dante Wright’s tragic death. But there are far too many alarming elements of the Line 3 law enforcement story. As just one example, the slush fund from the foreign company behind the pipeline that is essentially providing a blank check for cops to harass, stalk and intimate activists – a “daily battering from law enforcement,” according to Dawn Goodwin, one of those proud Ojibwe women on the front lines.
The environmental movement has been slower than a melting glacier in its full embrace of a bold justice agenda. It took the murder of a Black man at the hands of a former Minneapolis Police Officer in broad daylight to bring climate justice and equity into the spotlight where it belongs. It’s encouraging to now see this agenda embedded into the climate fight. But only if the movement continues to show solidarity with those organizers who have long demanded true police accountability will we be able to achieve any measure of “sustainability.”
The daily battering inflicted on the Ojibwe women up north is by no means the first time this point has been made clear. Standing Rock warriors infamously faced attack dogs and water cannons in subzero temperatures not that long ago. To this day highly regarded independent journalists like Unicorn Riot are being harassed by our government to turn over footage related to those protests that were aimed at stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline Pipeline. When my career first started, climate strikers and water protectors alike were often labeled ecoterrorists and considered by the FBI as the nation’s most significant domestic security threat.
Protecting our planet has been criminalized for far too long. We know that the true criminals are those very same oil companies who have lied about climate change for decades. Allowing foreign oil interests to pay our local law enforcement to confront indigenous communities is a recipe only for more destruction.
It’s already hard for the climate community to break through the clutter and move people from apathy to action. Those courageous water protectors from Honor the Earth have been fighting Line 3 for years, and are just now getting national attention. Some likely will raise concerns that adding another highly contentious, complex element to this movement will water it down further. That it would divert attention away from the urgent needs to drawdown emissions, build back biodiversity or eradicate the plague of single use plastic. But as long as our Indigenous sisters are being stalked by Sheriffs armed with an endless piggy bank, or our migrant farmworkers who feed us fear midnight ICE raids, or our Black mothers have to worry if their son’s will come home alive after getting their car washed – as long as there is injustice in our streets, their can be no justice for our planet.
So if you want to honor the earth today, I encourage you to pick up the phone, call your representative and say his name even louder today and demand passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
Written by Christian Chamberlin, President of Effect Partners
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