Standing Rock: Another Day

Rev. Karen Brammer, Standing Rock, part 2

      While at camp today I learned of many things that were needed for people to remain in the oncoming cold weather. I made a list and went back into town. Your donations to Gofundme purchased a small but excellent part of that list:
  • propane tank and propane, 
  • Pediolyte for dehydration of those working outside all day, 
  • tissues for the many dozens of folks getting colds, 
  • backpacks for hauling supplies, 
  • some camp chairs, 
  • plastic bins for medical supplies, 
and more. The needs are great, so if you would like to help buy more on the list, please do go to Gofundme. Oh, and you donated $ for gas I use to fetch jailed Water Protectors, and to send a native family home after a 3 month stint of building the movement there.

      As I was shopping, I got another call that a jailed protester was being released and needed a ride back to camp. I went to the jail and waited for quite a while. When we finally met, he moved very carefully. It turns out that he was still in much pain from having been arrested on water cannon Sunday - hit with a rubber bullet, as well as the water cannon, followed by being kicked in the ribs enough that he had to go to the hospital to make sure nothing was broken.

      He was released from that arrest a couple days later, but then picked up again on a traffic infraction. He was then charged with 2 felony charges and put in solitary confinement (which we are pretty hopeful will be dropped). While we worked to find out where his truck was taken, I got another call for a second release.

      This man was arrested today while praying with a group of people in the mall. It was heartbreaking to hear how shoppers in the mall stood around the police chanting, "We support the Blue" and cheered as the peaceful, praying protesters were tackled, thrown to the floor and dragged.


      We have to work to build some kind of bridge of compassion to our neighbors. And it seems as is often the case that police officers need better training.

      Finally on our way, we needed to stop at a drugstore for medication, so I turned. A block away from the jail I was pulled over by the police for turning my blinker on after the required 100 yard minimum.

      The officer was really quite pleasant explaining what I had done until he asked me why I was in town.  He heard Standing Rock and completely changed his tone. He asked for identification of the two men in the car and questioned their business in town. I believe these things were not completely legal on his part so I asked for his name and badge number.  The whole thing made my heart heavy, but we got on our way, thankfully without a ticket.

      When I got these guys back to camp around midnight, an organizer I've worked with closely retold the story of another Water Protector being kicked and beaten. The story was told however, because during the beating the Water Protector was crying out to the officers for his hat. When things calmed down, the officers asked him why his hat was such a big deal. When he said it was the last thing his dad gave him before he died, an officer retrieved the hat for him.

      These officers are not monsters. Yet the special blend of competing values, exhaustion, stress and lack of experience with this kind of sustained mass action has brought out the worst in so many.

      And I know in some of the white Water Protectors as well. If the mindset going into the action is that it cannot fail because our earth is on a ledge from which we will not be able to step back, it is too easy to slip into panic and rage. The thinking is not wrong; we are on a precipice. But the panic does not help us think well, and our words and actions too easily fall away from the prayerful purpose of the native communities who invited us here. It is so difficult, yet most accomplish that peaceful stance through prayer and discipline. It is amazing just how peaceful the vast majority of the Water Protectors are.

      We will sometimes fail, I will fail as I engage folks on the "opposite side" of these issues - here at camp and at home. But we will learn, and keep working at it. What is the alternative? Prayer has to do with strength of spirit, strength of purpose, inviting help from what is most sacred however we define that. Thank you for your prayers. Tomorrow I hope to write more about the Dec 4 interfaith prayer that I am helping to do advertising for.

      Peace and much beauty to you and yours.

* * *
See also
Part 1: Preparing for Standing Rock


  1. Hi Karen, Just tuning in to your day-to-day, right now. Blessings to you and all Water Protectors. I want to say thanks to you, but feel that seems like you are the designated driver. I am grateful.

    First Parish in Needham, MA took a collection in October for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and raised $500 on one Sunday. It was an initiative of the social justice ministry of the congregation. I urge other like-minded congregations and individuals to do the same. Or send to Karen at her GoFundMe above. Sending love and good wishes,

  2. Susanna, I am so glad your congregation has stepped up to help in this way. One of the realities I think I see in this Water Protector movement has been that folks everywhere are sending money and supplies to support this historic confluence of international and cross-generational native leadership in response to extreme and continuous environmental injustice. This seems to have evoked a soulful generosity that I think is healing for all who give and receive. Quite a confluence and humbling to witness.