What we’re witnessing at Standing Rock, where activists have gathered to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline construction on Native American land, is just the latest incarnation of the government’s battle plan for stamping out any sparks of resistance and keeping the populace under control: battlefield tactics, military weaponry and a complete suspension of the Constitution.
Militarized police. Riot and camouflage gear. Armored vehicles. Mass arrests. Pepper spray. Tear gas. Batons. Strip searches. Drones. Less-than-lethal weapons unleashed with deadly force. Rubber bullets. Water cannons. Concussion grenades. Arrests of journalists. Intimidation tactics. Brute force.
This is what martial law looks like, when a government disregards constitutional freedoms and imposes its will through military force.
Only this is martial law without any government body having to declare it.
This is martial law packaged as law and order and sold to the public as necessary for keeping the peace.
These overreaching, heavy-handed lessons in how to rule by force have become standard operating procedure for a government that communicates with its citizenry primarily through the language of brutality, intimidation and fear.
What Americans have failed to comprehend is that the police state doesn’t differentiate.
In the eyes of the government–whether that government is helmed by Barack Obama or Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton–there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats, between blacks and whites and every shade in the middle, between Native Americans and a nation of immigrants (no matter how long we’ve been here), between the lower class and the middle and upper classes, between religious and non-religious Americans, between those who march in lockstep with the police state and those who oppose its tactics.
This is all part and parcel of the government’s plan for dealing with widespread domestic unrest, no matter the source.
Divide and conquer.
For too long now, the American people have allowed their personal prejudices and politics to cloud their judgment and render them incapable of seeing that the treatment being doled out by the government’s lethal enforcers has remained consistent, no matter the threat.
The government’s oppressive tactics have not changed.
The same martial law maneuvers and intimidation tactics used to put down protests and muzzle journalists two years ago in Ferguson and Baltimore are being used to flat-line protesters and journalists at Standing Rock this year.
The same infiltration and surveillance of ranch activists opposing the Bureau of Land Management in Oregon and Nevada over the past several years were used against nonviolent anti-war protesters more than a decade ago.
The same brutality that was in full force 20-plus years ago when the government raided the Branch Davidian religious compound near Waco, Texas–targeting residents with loud music, bright lights, bulldozers, flash-bang grenades, tear gas, tanks and gunfire, and leaving 80 individuals, including two dozen children, dead–were on full display more than 50 years ago when government agents unleashed fire hoses and police dogs on civil rights protesters, children included.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead’s aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties has earned him numerous accolades and accomplishments, including the Hungarian Medal of Freedom. His concern for the persecuted and oppressed led him, in 1982, to establish The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties and human rights organization in Charlottesville, Va. Whitehead serves as the Institute’s president and spokesperson. His thought-provoking commentaries call people to action and address a wide range of contemporary issues from faith to politics and television to constitutional rights. He is also a frequent commentator on a variety of issues in the national media, as well as the editor of the award-winning pop culture magazine, Gadfly. Whitehead’s book A Government of Wolves will be published in June 2013. Please visit On Target to view Whitehead’s weekly video commentaries. He also blogs daily about the emerging police state at http://agovernmentofwolves.com/