Yesterday, Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center, sent letters to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple to express deep concern for the ongoing treatment of and danger to protesters at the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation, and to urge both to work with law enforcement and other officials and to ensure that safety and rights are upheld.
Although we take no position on the pipeline, the safety and rights of the protesters must be ensured. Jewish tradition teaches that all people are created in the Divine image, and thus must be treated with dignity and respect. The U.S. Constitution also ensures central rights: freedom of religion, of speech, of the press, and of assembly. Protesters at the Dakota Access Pipeline are exercising their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly, and the use of excessive force by law enforcement and security threatens those freedoms.