More than 1 million people 'check in' at Standing Rock on Facebook; plus more ways you can help

An 86-year old Sioux elder at the Sacred Stone Camp near Cannonball, North Dakota.
An 86-year old Sioux elder at the Sacred Stone Camp near Cannonball, North Dakota.
Tuesday, November 1, 2016

More than 1 million people have "checked in" at Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota on Facebook on October 31. The mass "check in" was in response to a viral post calling for help to protect activists in North Dakota protesting against the Dakota Access oil pipeline from police surveillance through the Facebook feature.

"The Morton County Sheriff's Department has been using Facebook check-ins to find out who is at Standing Rock in order to target them in attempts to disrupt the prayer camps,” the text of the viral Facebook post said.

“So Water Protectors are calling on EVERYONE to check-in at Standing Rock, ND to overwhelm and confuse them. This is concrete action that can protect people putting their bodies and well-beings on the line that we can do without leaving our homes."

It was not clear who wrote the post and call for action, however, it managed to attract hundreds of thousands of people. Byt he afternoon on October 31, more than 870,000 people had checked in, skyrocketing from just 140,000 before the post went viral.

The action against the US$3.8 billion pipeline has attracted more than 300 Native American tribes from across the United States in a show of unity that is being called historic. They say the project will damage burial sites considered sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and pollute the area's drinking water.

Authorities have been struggling to combat the protests and have taken a more aggressive approach against the protesters. In the week before the mass check in, 142 protesters were arrested in a series of clashes with police in ongoing demonstrations at the contested construction site in North Dakota. Police also used tear gas against demonstrators.

Mekasi Camp Horinek, a protest leader from Bold Oklahoma, an environmental advocacy group, said he did not know who started the online movement, but he welcomed it. "It is a lot of people showing their support for Standing Rock," Horinek said on October 31 by telephone from North Dakota. "They can't be with us here physically, but they are with us in spirit and prayer."

A spokesperson for the Morton County sheriff’s department told the British newspaper The Guardian in a statement that it was “not monitoring Facebook check-ins for the protest camp or any location for that matter. These rumors/claims are completely false.”

However, the action has evolved into a show of solidarity for the people protesting the pipeline as many popular political figures and celebrities have come out in support of the Native American nations, bringing their struggle to mainstream media in the country.

“It’s definitely better than just sticking your head in the sand,” Lindsey Jones, from Wethersfield, Connecticut, one of the thousands who remotely checked in on Facebook at the protest camp, told The Guardian. “And it does often lead to ‘real’ activism when people who don’t know anything about organising or activism connect with people who do.

Last month more than 1,200 archaeologists, anthropologists, curators, museum officials and academics signed a letter in support of the protests against the Dakota Access pipeline and calling on the U.S. government and its agencies to put an end to the construction of the oil facility.

Also earlier this month several Hollywood stars, including Mark Ruffalo and Susan Sarandon, joined more than 800 protesters gathered in Los Angeles Sunday to show support for activists demonstrating against the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline on Native American lands in North Dakota.

You can also support the Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund

Reposted from TeleSUR English

Check in, but don't check out: More ways to help Standing Rock

By Counteract

Standing, not clicking with Standing Rock

At the high point yesterday facebook told us that ONE MILLION people were talking about Standing Rock and #NoDAPL … the campaign to stop a gas pipeline and destruction of indigenous homelands.

That is very exciting. Imagine if just 10% of those people took a second, small, but meaningful action? Can you help us support people in Australia to do this? Read on.

First off – there are mixed views on whether the “check in” process is doing much to fulfill its stated purpose – to confuse authorities… You would likely have seen a version of this message:

The Morton County Sherriff’s Department has been using Facebook check-ins to find out who is at Standing Rock in order to target them in attempts to disrupt the prayer camps. So Water Protecters are calling on EVERYONE to check-in at Standing Rock, ND to overwhelm and confuse them. This is concrete action that can protect people putting their bodies and well-beings on the line that we can do without leaving our homes. Will you join me in Standing Rock?

Yes, authorities do use facebook to track activists. That is well known. In Australia there is even a corporate outfit that makes a pretty penny as the government outsources some of its surveillance to them.

However, the police would not be relying on this information as the sole source, and certainly not to track accurately. But any use as an anecdotal or ancillary tool has been blown out of the water, whilst demonstrating some very appreciated global solidarity – that is never a bad thing.

Government agencies have access to metadata to track phones, and for many months now have set up roadblocks, and checked IDs arbitrarily in a blatant breach of civil liberties – alongside their undercover operatives this will be giving them much more accurate information. However the article by Snopes and others actually references a quote from the police saying they aren’t using facebook. That anyone is taking as gospel a quote from police about how they treat protestors and monitor them is absolutely laughable, and poor journalism. These same police have turned a blind eye to untrained security guards launching attack dogs, arbitrarily arrested many people including journalists, strip searched people, deployed sound cannons, assaulted peaceful protectors and ripped them out of prayer ceremonies.

However, the quote from Standing Rock Sacred Stone camp is at least likely authentic. Whilst the media team at the camp may not have issued this, it could still have come out from a source at one of the camps, or via a well meaning friend – these situations are very fluid and de-centralised and there are 1000s of people in and out. Regardless, it is great that there is such good will out there, though it would be lovely if it could be turned into deeper action.

WHAT CAN YOU REALLY DO TO HELP?

  1. There is a great page where you can find information about targets around the world who need to be pressured. These include CitiBank in Australia, so contact them via phone or face to face and let them know what you think about them financing a project that deploys sound cannons, militarised police, and attack dogs on people praying. Melbourne folks did that recently, check it.
  2. Send resources. Every little bit helps – there are lots of different channels, and groups that are calling for wish lists to be filled like this one.  Some people prefer to donate goods as it can be transparent, and it feels tangible. Be careful though as there have been people trying to impersonate the camp. Be aware that there are actually several physical camps: a couple of them are Red Warrior and Sacred Stone.
  3. Support the legal fund. People are regularly being jailed for several days and facing inflated charges.
  4. Follow people on the ground for direct updates and share them:
  5. Take a solidarity photo like we did at Friends of the Earth AGM and send it.
  6. Share this blog and remind people that there are more ways to help.
  7. Don’t be negative about people using the Check In option – lots of indigenous people in Australia have, and are appreciative of the global spotlightthis provides.

And importantly, educate yourself about local issues facing indigenous peoples, and support their struggles too. Some easy steps:

  1. Check out our resources page for first steps.
  2. Find out more about first nations struggles for climate justice. Seed is a great place to start. Seed are currently working with Traditional Owners across the Northern Territory to stop it being opened up to dangerous shale gas fracking and ensuring sure that Aboriginal rights are at the forefront of this fight to Protect Country.
  3. Support the Wangan and Jagalingou people who are fighting the development of the worlds largest coal mine – they aren’t at a direct action stage yet, but are being consistently vilified in the media, and need support.
  4. Turn out on the streets when aboriginal people ask you to. Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance are amazing young organisers and need support.

Thanks, and solidarity to people fighting for climate justice everywhere.