Open Letter to President Barack Obama After Witnessing Last Night’s Police Attack on Standing Rock
Five days ago, UN human rights experts advised us to halt construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline because of the excessive force being used on the protestors. After watching the SWAT team attack them again last night, I felt compelled to write the President a letter. I did literally send this to him. I hope he reads it. I hope you’ll write to him, too.
As I write you, I am a 31-year-old American, the great granddaughter of Jewish refugees, the granddaughter of a decorated World War II veteran. I grew up poor to a single mother but I worked hard in school and received a full ride to Wesleyan University. I graduated in 2008.
Standing in for Ted Kennedy, you spoke at my graduation. After taking my degree, I shook your hand and I told you I loved you.
That was 8 years ago.
I write to you now because I know you know how I feel without the words having to be said. I know you know those who will be hurt most by your successor’s policies will be the nation’s poor. Poverty and state violence will be your successor’s weapons; those who would protect tomorrow’s children must allow him no respite.
I know you know civilization is only a line we draw in the sand. Our integrity is measured in how we hold this line.
You have two months left in office. I ask you as a concerned citizen to end whatever policies you know will be abused to crush peaceful resistance and dissent. I speak specifically of the horror I just witnessed live in North Dakota last night as a SWAT team blanketed peaceful, unarmed protestors with water cannons, rubber bullets, tear gas, and mace. I speak of all the horrors I watched all year as police pepper-sprayed protestors outside of Trump’s rallies. I speak of Dallas, Ferguson, Baltimore, Cleveland. I speak of Tamir Rice.
This has been a hard rain. The forecast says it will only get harder.
I know it gives you no pleasure to act as though this is all under control. But Mr. President, I write you to express what I know you already know: every human rights violation you overlook now will set the precedent for your successor. I fear that civilians who want a better future for tomorrow’s children be swept away by the human war machine that you’ve allowed to build under your administration. As the descendent of refugees, I already know what nightmares a State can unleash in the name of upholding the Law.
But I know you know this.
Please never forget,