Lisha Sterling אלישבע סטרילנג
+ Your AuthorsArchive @lishevita Teaching. Laughing. Writing. Coding. Kitten Herding. @GodsAndRadicals, @frontlineWU, Snowdrift, @DisCOcoop Executive Director at @GWOBorg. Opinions are my own Jan. 24, 2021 4 min read

Let me tell you a story about a time that a cop did not kill anyone, despite having very good reason to be scared for his life:

It was October 2016, at the Oceti Sakowin camp on land that belonged to the Standing Rock Lakota people according to treaty, but which is currently 1/

claimed by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

It was night time. I was up on media hill just outside the media tent smoking a cigarette and taking to someone. The rest of the camp stretched out in front of us, the milky way bright above us flashlights & camp fires between tents

Everything in camp was peaceful.

Then all of a sudden, to the South I see this red car driving up hwy 1806 at high speed and then it turned into the South Gate without stopping.

The South Gate was the Out Gate at that point, but our security was unarmed,


They couldn't stop a speeding car from driving in like that, but they got on the radio and immediately alerted security across camp about what happened. I saw a few people at key locations jump into cars and jump on horses in an instant.

But a moment later, a cop car came up


The red car turned off its headlights just after entering camp and kept driving through the camp. I would find out later that the car drove right through tents and a tipi, injuring several people, before it got stuck. Driver and passengers ran away on foot.

But that cop car 5/

It came in lights flashing and in hot pursuit. Only, the cop lost the red car in the darkness, and had no choice but to slow down and drive the marked road around the camp.

By the time the cop had made it a little half way around the loop, it was surrounded by people


Now, mind you, Camp Security knew about the red car, but most of the people at camp did not. They only saw a police car come racing into camp with it's lights flashing. A lot of people thought that this was the start of some sort of raid on the camp at first.


So, the police car got surrounded, completely, by people, cars, trucks. That cop car was not going anywhere. One car. One officer. He's 10 miles from the nearest station down in Fort Yates. There's a National Guard road block about 30 miles North. He is well and truly F'd.

From up on the hill I can hear yelling and people banging on the police car. Then silence. Then more yelling. Then silence again. More yelling. This goes on for a bit. Feels like ages, but it was probably only 30 seconds or a minute. I have no idea.


Now, I could not possibly see what what going on down there, nor could I hear individual voices, but I swear to you, I could tell the minute when that officer rolled down his window. And I could tell when he spoke directly to the Security who had gone down there.


The flashing lights turned off. There were some negotiations. And then the police car drove slowly, very slowly, out of camp. The car was escorted the whole way by Camp Security. It went out the North Gate and parked a few yards north on hwy 1806.


People returned to their tipis, tents, and RVs. Camp Security went into action looking for the car thieves who had stolen the red car up in Bismark and taken police on a long chase to camp. Medics went into action taking care of the injured from where red car drove through.


That night could have been the end of the the Standing Rock Water Protector story. It could have turned into a massacre. This is not hyperbole. Study some Native American history, and learn how misunderstandings turned into massacres. If something had happened to the cop...


You know that the full force of the Federal Government, the Morton County Sheriffs, and the Tiger Swan mercenaries would have come down on us at that camp that very night. But that's not what happened.

And if the cop had shot anyone, it's not likely he would have gotten out

So, one police officer who had every single reason to fear for his life rolled down his window and talked to the people who were surrounding his car. He did not pull out a gun. He didn't threaten to shoot. He talked.


A deal was agreed. Cop car would leave camp. Camp Security would lock down ALL the camps (Oceti Sakowin -- the biggest, and Sacred Stone and Rosebud to the South of the Cannonball River) and they would find the driver and passengers of the stolen red car.


Many more police showed up outside of Camp that night, but they did not come into Camp land. They waited outside on the highway.

Camp security found their perps and handed them over to the police outside of Camp.

No one died.


The next time you see a cop say, "I was scared for my life," I want you to remember that story and ask yourself, "What would have happened if the cop had used their words?"

How many lives can be saved by unarmed Mutual Aid Security or a Cop who doesn't pull out a gun?


You can follow @lishevita.


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