You may have noticed there’s quite a happening in North Dakota right now.
The construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the protests consuming it have headlined local and national news recently. The topic has garnered much attention from people across the nation, including celebrities who have lent their voices in support to cease the construction of this pipeline.
Crowds have flocked to North Dakota to be a part of the protests. Some people are arming themselves with the facts while others have congregated simply to jump on the bandwagon.
We are all reading about the protests and topics like clean water, Native American traditions, environmental impacts, lawsuits, and restraining orders filed against the protesters. We are watching video clips that display Native American dance, prayer, and community in the form of peaceful protest. We are also watching demonstrations of not-so-peaceful protesting, such as Native Americans riding their horses directly into a line of police officers, forcing them to back away or throwing objects towards pipeline workers.
Then, of course, we are watching a police officer take a protester to the ground, because as Americans we love that kind of click bait and to be “stunned”, even though we have no idea how the situation escalated to that point.
What I’m not reading much about is how this is all affecting local law enforcement and their families.
You see, I’m the spouse of one of these officers, and not one who automatically takes the side of the law, just because. I’m usually the first to point out if an action is not justified. However, there is a very dark underbelly to this story that isn’t so widely circulating or acknowledged.
I won’t say there are no peaceful protesters, because most definitely there are, but there are also people here who are using this event to feed their anti-law enforcement agenda and to nurture their anarchist personalities.
Intel has been rolling in about suspicious activity, threats, and hear say on my husband’s work phone and e-mail all day, every day, on shift and off shift. These leads are always investigated.
Wherever there is peace, there is war, and some have promised just that against our officers.
Unfortunately this doesn’t fall into the category that media outlets want to report. The general public doesn’t seem exceptionally interested in this, nor do the celebrities. Our spouses and friends have been threatened, followed home, and people have gone as far as to take pictures of our homes and have records of our names. We have changed our names on social media to try and protect ourselves and our families.
It takes me a while to figure out who is who these days.
We are seeing pictures of our family and friends on Facebook posted by young men and women who are raving about an officer’s “smirk”, and then watching the comments roll in from people who promise to “roll up there and kill that pig”.
We are taking precautions to check our homes for invaders and protect our children.
Some departments have instructed officers not to wear their name badges. I can’t have lunch with my husband if he is in uniform, or even be seen with him in uniform. Period.
And yes, officers get a lunch break also.
Squad cars are out of sight when off duty, and rear view mirrors are being closely watched at the end of the shift on the drive home. Children are not being left unattended and have been taught where to go, what to do, and who to call in the event of any emergency.
These are the things that most people are not aware of. This is what the men and women of law enforcement are dealing with.
What I’m asking of all you here in North Dakota to peacefully protest is to be respectful.
My husband’s uniform takes up a very small section of our closet. An officer is not all that he is. He’s my friend, my partner, a father, a son, a brother. Just like you. That’s why if anything hits the fan, no matter what your stance is, for him or against him, he’ll have your back.
After writing this article – I can just see it now – there will be comments about prejudice towards Native Americans. Comments about what happened one hundred years ago which none of us today had anything to do with. Comments about hating the police and how they should just go die. Comments about how you pay their salaries with your taxes (by the way, taxes come out of their checks also). Comments about how I’m just a naïve, biased spouse.
But let’s rise above that.