According to Report #NoDAPL Camp Organizers Dealt With Attempted Rape Internally

Though the Oceti Sakowin Camp was hit by a severe blizzard earlier in the week, tents and vehicles still filled the area on Thursday. Campers worked to keep each other warm, cutting firewood and passing out hand and foot warmers. (Grace Pastoor | Forum News Service)

Buried deep in a November Rolling Stone report from the Oceti Sakowin camp (the largest of the #NoDAPL protest camps established without permit on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land) is this disturbing revelation about protest organizers choosing to deal with an alleged attempted rape internally instead of reporting it to authorities (emphasis mine):

In the face of outside forces and the larger political winds sweeping the U.S., Grassrope and others are struggling to build a new form of Indian government at Standing Rock, in which the traditional leadership of the Oceti Sakowin, the seven council fires of the Great Sioux Nation, operates as a sovereign state in a way not seen in over a century. This plays out on the ground in numerous small ways: The same week as the election, the council voted – on recommendation from the women’s council – to banish from the camp a young man accused of attempted rape. The women paraded him around the camp calling out what trash he was, then cut off his braids and threw him out of camp.

I contacted Lt. Tom Iverson, a spokesman for the North Dakota Highway Patrol and one of the communications staff who has been working the protests for months now, and asked him about this situation. He said state authorities would be looking into it, but it didn’t sound as though this was something reported to law enforcement authorities.

I’ll update as I learn more, but why didn’t Rolling Stone investigate this? Why didn’t they interview the alleged victim? Why didn’t they follow up with authorities? How is this anecdote buried at the bottom of an article and not the headline?

Does reasonable person think a public shaming and banishment from the camp is an appropriate response to an alleged crime as serious as attempted rape?

If the man is guilty, cutting off his braids and expelling him from the camp isn’t enough, nor does it sufficiently address the threat he poses to other women in the future.

If he’s not guilty, one could argue that his rights to due process were trampled when guilt was established apparently through a public shaming ritual. Did this man have a right to legal counsel? An opportunity to confront his accuser? Who knows. That’s a problem.

This is all the more startling coming from Rolling Stone which, in its infamous and now retracted story about a rape at the University of Virginia, called out school officials for supposedly trying to adjudicate a felonious assault on camps. That article called out the “absurdity of a school offering to handle the investigation and adjudication of a felony sex crime,” as filmmaker Phelim McAleer also notes in an article.

I agree that it’s absurd for universities to try and adjudicate serious felony crimes. How does Rolling Stone not also see the absurdity in a protest camp dealing with sex crime internally?

Also, what interests are being served by the #NoDAPL political movement dealing with a serious crime in one of its camp internally? Rolling Stone ludicrously describes this incident as some noble exercise in sovereign governance in indigenous peoples, but it might more easily be explained as an effort to hush up a story which would have been a negative headline for a protest movement all too prone to violence and lawlessness.

If there really was an attempted sexual assault at a #NoDAPL camp – I honestly don’t know how seriously to take any Rolling Stone report these days, and I say that as a former subscriber – it should have been reported to the authorities. Tribal police. State police. Federal law enforcement. Someone in a position to investigate and adjudicate the charges and hold the accused responsible under the law.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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