Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe Offers Detailed Account of Standing Rock Protest Visit
Earlier this week, Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe reported back from his trip to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation where peaceful protestors had gathered to stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline project. As promised, he penned a full account of the journey for Rolling Stone, offering details from within the camp that major media outlets have been shy about in coverage.
He initially begins describing his ride with his friend David, a member of the Leech Lake band of Ojibwe in Minnesota. The two prepped heavily for the trek to North Dakota, bringing along zero-degree sleeping bags, heavy blankets and more to ready themselves for the winter weather.
Blythe said the impetus to head to Standing Rock to protest was spurred “after [Hillary] Clinton called [Donald] Trump to concede victory” in the Presidential election. “I took a break from election coverage to see if there was any news from Standing Rock,” he added, going on, “and in the process found out that our brand-new President-elect had personally invested money in the pipeline. ‘I need to go and see for myself what is happening there,’ I thought.”
When Randy and David arrived, they gained entry after declaring they had no alcohol, drugs, firearms or any other weapons. Blythe went on to describe the camp as communal with a central focus on prayer and protecting the water as loud announcements reiterated. As many know, not all has been peaceful in Standing Rock with heavily armed police officers combatting the efforts with, as the singer described, “rifles, grenade launchers, safety-orange shotguns, large pepper-spray canisters resembling fire extinguishers and a few water hoses.”
These weapons were in full view as the camp prepared to peacefully face off against the police. Warned against advancing any further than their present standing, they learned the police were willing to view the protestors’ actions of covering their hands with rubber gloves (to protect from pepper spray) and mixing liquids (milk of magnesia to alleviate tear gas) as “an act of aggression” and reason to use those aforementioned weapons, though no violence on either side ensued.
This notion of an excuse to unleash these weapons on protestors left Blythe perplexed, as he wondered, “Rubber gloves and household squirt bottles constitute an act of aggression? What were we going to do, throw the gloves at them and challenge them to a long-distance water-gun duel?”
This, however, was a small portion of his reflection, which instead focused on respecting cultural traditions and the general way the protestors lived day-to-day as they prepare to endure the long and cold winter.
In closing, the Lamb of God frontman reflected on the significance of his trip to Standing Rock, pointing out the larger issues at hand. “What is happening at Standing Rock is a reaction to the continued and systematic oppression of the indigenous people of our land. I am amazed at the level of restraint and commitment to nonviolence the overwhelming majority of these people have continued to display in such large numbers and can only pray that everything remains as peaceful as possible.”
He then put this entire scene in a different context, proposing, “If the events occurring there were to happen in a major American city instead of way out on the edge of an isolated Indian reservation, there would be massive riots and there is no question about that in my mind.”
“There are other questions, though; hard questions that we need to start asking ourselves, all of us,” Blythe said. “The most important one is this: Are we ready to stop screwing around and decide whether or not we are going to leave a world where human beings can survive in the future?”
Read the entire piece at Rolling Stone.
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