[pjw] ANALYSIS: Rural Oregon deserves better (Rural Organizing Project 10/29)
Peace and Justice Works
pjw at pjw.info
Sat Oct 29 19:07:01 EDT 2016
This from our friens at the Rural Organizing project sums up the imbalance
of justice in the verdict in the Harney County case.
peace and justice works
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 29 Oct 2016 17:02:59 -0500
From: Jessica Campbell - Rural Organizing Project <jessica at rop.org>
Subject: [ROPNET] Rural Oregon deserves better
October 29, 2016
Many of us across Oregon are reeling after the acquittal of the Bundys and
some of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupiers. How can seven
people who orchestrated a 41-day armed standoff that held an entire
community hostage be acquitted, especially on the same day over 100
indigenous water protectors in North Dakota were shot at, beaten, and
Some media are repeating the false Bundy talking point that this acquittal
is "a victory for rural communities". Which rural communities? Talk to the
residents of Harney County, and residents of neighboring Eastern Oregon
counties where militia activity is widespread, and they will tell you that
the acquittal puts a target on their backs if they speak up for the simple
right to air political opinions that dissent from the militias. The Burns
Paiute Tribe are pointing out the hypocrisy and insult of so-called
patriots claiming tribal land as their own, threatening tribal leadership,
desecrating the land, damaging and stealing tribal artifacts during the
occupation, and getting away with it scot-free.
We are seeing militia members celebrate and claim the acquittal as a
victory; an affirmation of their tactics, which include claiming to
represent entire communities they don't actually reside in, while using
intimidation, threats of violence, and vandalism to silence critique and
political opposition. This verdict has sent a message that these tactics
are not only effective, but also go without consequence.
Whatever the reason for the verdict, it has greatly increased the anxiety
felt by rural Oregonians. Many worry their community could be next. Rural
Oregonians, and especially the residents of Harney County, have already
experienced months of harassment and intimidation by Oath Keepers, Three
Percenters, and other paramilitaries just for disagreeing. Militia
supporters have threatened violence toward critics (including the Rural
Organizing Project), indigenous leaders, law enforcement, and even the
Governor of Oregon. This decision leaves many people in fear.
It is impossible to ignore the racism of the militia land seizure in
Harney County, the acquittal, and even the Federal charges themselves. At
no time in this process was justice sought for the seizure and desecration
of the Burns Paiute Tribe's unceded lands, arguably the most egregious
crime committed by these so-called patriots. We also see this structural
racism mirrored in the news from North Dakota, where unarmed indigenous
people, defending their Treaty lands from being bulldozed for an oil
pipeline, are faced with militarized state police committing violence on
the behalf of corporations. Meanwhile, in Oregon, armed white militia
members face no consequences for holding a community hostage for over a
month, running rampant over sacred ground. Many of the officers involved
in the military intervention in Standing Rock hail from rural areas just
like ours where emergency services are already stretched past their limit,
yet they are being committed to act as publicly funded rent-a-cops for an
oil conglomerate. The assumption that our rural communities support these
actions is simply wrong.
This acquittal reminds many rural Oregonians once again that we must fight
to overcome our isolation. Our rural communities across the state are
struggling to stay connected, to repair damaged social ties and
institutions ravaged by years of recession. Armed militia groups offer
only more divisions, fostering a culture of fear that raises temperatures
in our communities. In fact, Patriot groups in Oregon and corporations
trying to advance the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota thrive on our
division, pitting us against each other and making us believe that we are
marginal. Militias and so-called Patriot groups have grown in power in
rural communities in Oregon largely because of the vacuum left by decades
of divestment and neglect that have created massive crises in social
services and safety nets, from 911 dispatch to schools. Rural Oregonians
are feeling more vulnerable than ever before.
Let's come together as human dignity leaders, activists, concerned
community members, and neighbors to tell the real story of rural Oregon.
We all know that people do not support or join insurrectionist movements
if their needs are met. We need to build security for rural communities if
we want this crisis to end. This means holding our political leadership
accountable to rural Oregonians, coming together with our neighbors to
envision how we want our communities to look, and doing the hard work of
organizing to see that vision through to becoming a reality.
As rural Oregonians, we call upon our elected officials and urban friends
to show up for rural communities as we struggle for basic decency and
opportunity. No Oregonian should have to fear that a loved one will be
followed home by a militia member or worry that their 911 call will go
unanswered. Living in our state must come with a shared commitment to fund
a baseline level of vital services in every Oregon county.
We need 24-hour a day, 7-day a week 911 service, public education, and
public libraries. We need access to affordable healthcare and mental
health resources. We need new economic engines that do not rely on natural
resource extraction. We need meaningful and dignified jobs that pay living
wages. We need safety nets that actually catch the most vulnerable in our
Rural Oregonians deserve the opportunity to determine what is acceptable
in our communities and to know that violence will not be condoned against
the people for any reason, corporate or private.
We invite you to edit, add to, use, and share this statement as your own.
Send an open letter to your community from your human dignity group. Use
this to craft a letter to the editor. Start a local social media campaign.
Let's tell the real story of rural Oregonians and what our priorities are:
creating solutions that work for all of us, not just for those who have
the most guns.
Jess, Cara, Grace, Mike, and the ROP Team
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