Police at Standing Rock:
Professionalism requires deescalation on your part. This dispute is in no way worth you injuring or killing a protester or getting harmed yourself for that matter. Even if you think your position is legally justifiable.
Your militarized response however righteous you think you are (you may be) has only served to increase the danger and harm to everyone in the community you have sworn to protect. You are not in some life or death battle trying to hold a tenuous beachhead at Normandy thinking the fate of the free world lies in your steadfastness.
It is easy to look back in history and see how our government, law enforcement, and corporations have often repeatedly conspired against disenfranchised peoples. As members of those same organizations today. You, an armed government agent, (rightfully) carry that stigma. Maybe you should reflect for a moment and imagine how your tactics today enforcing edicts from these same historically oppressive powers will look through the lens of history.
Alas your violent actions will be shown like all the other times to be equally unjust.
Who exactly are you “fighting” for? The billionaire Energy Transfer Partners CEO? Notice he is not putting himself personally in the position to shoot a water defender or get harmed himself. Neither is the North Dakota Governor. How about any of the Federal bureaucrats, government judges, lobbyists that crafted these documents, even President Obama. They are not willing to put their own skin in the game, but easily give you “orders” for you to unthinkingly obey and implement.
It is you, the individual police officer, that will be bear the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual burdens of the harm you inflict on others in furtherance of this unnecessary conflict. Others will reap the profits. When the inevitable excessive force and abuse complaints arise, those same “leaders” will quickly do an about-face and throw you to the crowds to be torn apart. It won’t be them. Speaking of profits, honestly ask yourself, would you be on that front line if you were not getting paid.
You may think the protesters are wrongheaded. But even you understand the vast majority are standing up as well-intentioned stewards of our land and water, and to exert their rights of self determination as native people that have been abused and marginalized under similar conditions for hundreds of years where “laws” were “enforced” as a tools of oppression.
Everyday police across America terminate high speed pursuits of real criminals when the danger of the situation outweighs the interest of immediate “justice.” It is a proper, well-reasoned response to the reality of the situation. No one would infer you now supported that criminal.
Incidents where police deescalate are prudent and do not tarnish the “rule of law.” In fact they serve to burnish the professionalism of Peace Officers.
This is not like you are letting some crazed ax murderer get away only to slaughter more innocents. We are talking about a dispute over where some dang pipe will be put in the ground. Is that what you are going to shoot someone over?
I’m sure there are some officers that are convinced these protesters are an early wave of unconventional warfare terrorists looking to turn America into some eco-communist state. Well, your response so far is certainly turning us into a violent fascist police state. That is on you. I’m sure global elites would not mind either outcome. Don’t fall into their trap.
Soon you will be facing a contingent of veteran United States military and police members that have voluntarily deployed to Standing Rock. These men and women lead by USMC and Baltimore Police veteran Michael A. Wood are from your same tribe. The tribe that swore to serve and protect others. Do not fear them. Secure your sniper rifles, pistols, “less lethal” guns, grenades, and gas. Your weapons are not necessary and are counterproductive to the community’s interest in deescalation. Use this opportunity to show good faith on your behalf.
Return to your rightful place in society as keepers of the peace, not militarized oppressors.
Fellow police officers, show everyone your integrity, professionalism, compassion and stand down at Standing Rock.
-Raeford Davis @RaefordD is a Former Police Officer Turned Freedom Advocate.