North Carolina Piedmont DSA stands with UNC Chapel Hill graduate student worker Maya Little, who was arrested last week for demonstrating the true meaning of UNC’s monument to white supremacy, Silent Sam.
We reject the idea that US police, from leadership to officers, have anything to learn from the Israeli military or police, the enforcement arm of a racist apartheid state and violent settler colonial project.
Takiyah Thompson, Dante Strobino, Loan Tran, Peter Gilbert, and the rest of our Workers World Party comrades who tore down the racist Confederate memorial in Durham should not face any charges for their actions. We thank them for having the courage to do what Durham should have done long ago, and we will stand in solidarity with them as police, elected officials, and right-wing extremists attempt to intimidate them in response to their heroism.
Since the spring, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Native Americans from nearby tribes, and allied activists have been gathered at Sacred Stone Camp to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. Their efforts, as well as the militarized police response to their peaceful protests—which has includedwater cannons, rubber bullets, mace, and more—have made national news.
But the fight to protect Native land and clean water is not limited to North Dakota.
As the Bismarck Tribune and others have pointed out, the original Dakota Access Pipeline route led through Bismarck, North Dakota, but was moved citing dangers to the area’s drinking water, among other things. Residents of the Standing Rock reservation are being forced to accept health hazards North Dakota’s whiter, wealthier residents can avoid.
That dynamic has governed the relationship between the United States and Native peoples since the days of Columbus. It also governs the relationship between the rich and the poor of more generally across the capitalist world. It’s simply the way capitalism works: to improve the lives of the rich, the poor are forced to accept dangerous, unhealthy conditions.
Given how widespread these forms of oppression are, it shouldn’t surprise us that the same issues motivating the protests at Sacred Stone Camp are coming to North Carolina. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will span six hundred miles through West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina, could begin construction as early as fall 2017, according to WNCN. The pipeline will carry natural gas that has been collected through fracking, and the communities who live along the pipeline’s proposed route will face the well-known environmental dangers of fracking and gas leaks.
Mac Legerton, who led a protest against the pipeline the weekend before Thanksgiving, made clear that the people who are forced to suffer these risks are those who have already suffered most from capitalist development: people of color and the poor.
“We feel very strongly that this is being done because this is the poorest part of the state. We always seem to get the waste that other people want to get rid of and the dirtiest economic plans,” he told WNCN. The pipeline’s route also goes through tribal land in North Carolina, and many native people participated in Legerton’s protest.
The North Carolina chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America stands with Standing Rock and the Native and poor peoples of North Carolina. We believe that all people should have clean water and a say in how their community’s land should be used. We believe that we must build a new economy on clean, reusable energy to avoid the devastation of climate change and ecological catastrophe—disasters that most affect those least responsible for them.
Legerton announced another protest against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in early March. Watch for further announcements from the Center for Community Action and EcoRobeson. In addition, the US Army Corps of Engineers said that it will close Sacred Stone Camp on December 5, and that any protesters remaining will be subject to arrest. The Huffington Post compiled a list of ways to support Standing Rock, including ways to donate to the tribe, to a legal defense fund, and to provide supplies.
Donald Trump won the presidency by stoking and exploiting racist and xenophobic fears, and Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison is promising to help Trump spread that fear in the Triangle.
Harrison told ABC11 that his department will willingly share information on Triangle residents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Though Harrison, like Trump, is claiming that he will focus on supposed criminals, he made clear that he will use ICE to target residents when he wants to remove them from the area, but doesn’t have evidence that they committed any crimes.
“Hey, we don’t have enough to charge him, but you [ICE] might want to look into him, he’s undocumented, or she’s undocumented, and let’s just get him out of our neighborhood,” he told ABC11.
By circumventing due process, Harrison is playing to stereotypes of immigrants—and our Latinx neighbors more generally—as criminals, treating them as inferior citizens who are not worthy of constitutional protections. Harrison’s comments make clear that immigrants’ rights are secondary to the comfort of others—others who we know to be wealthy, white citizens.
This kind of oppression is not new in North Carolina. The same sentiment lies behind House Bill 318, which Governor Pat McCrory signed last year. At a press conference, McCrory and Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes both justified the bill as a way to preserve law and order. In reality, it’s just a way to ensure undocumented immigrants—and anyone assumed to be an undocumented immigrant—have onerous bureaucratic hoops to jump through to prove their right to take part in our local communities.
We must fight back against Trump, Harrison, Barnes, and McCrory’s bigotry. We must ensure that our friends, family, and neighbors who are immigrants are safe in North Carolina, regardless of their immigration status.
To help resist anti-immigrant policies in the Triangle, we urge you to:
Attend the public ICE 287(g) program steering committee meeting that will take place at 1 p.m. on December 12 at the Wake County Detention Center. The 287(g) program allows ICE to deport undocumented immigrants, and the meeting allows public comment so you can speak against the way it is used to oppress Triangle residents.
Support efforts to create sanctuaries for immigrants the Triangle. Though Governor McCrory signed a bill last year outlawing sanctuary cities, movements have started at Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and elsewhere to create protections for undocumented immigrants at those institutions. Join the protests, petitions, and other actions in your area.