I want to illustrate how far we sill have to go as a nation and society toward equal access to land and property by drawing a comparison between two events that occurred on Thursday: the acquittal of the occupiers of the Malheur Wildlife refuge [“Acquitted,” Page One, Oct. 28] and the use of force against the Standing Rock protesters [“Pepper spray, chaos at pipeline protest,” Page One, Oct. 28].
The Malheur group is fighting for reverting public lands to private control, while the Standing Rock group is protesting the impact of the use of neighboring private property on a whole community. The reaction by law enforcement to the groups has been stunning.
The Malheur group was widely seen in videos patrolling the refuge with weapons and the FBI was reticent to use force against them during their occupation. In North Dakota, the Morton County sheriff was quoted justifying the use of armored vehicles, pepper spray, billy clubs and concussion grenades saying that the protesters “had used dangerous tactics, including setting fires and using horses.”
It is clear that our society still understands land use and ownership as a right of white individuals at the expense of the common good.
Katherine Nesse, Seattle