At congressional hearing, Indigenous water protector denounces coordinated attack on environmental activists
Center for Constitutional Rights client Anne White Hat, a Sicangu Lakota Water Protector, today denounced the coordinated attack by oil and gas companies, lawmakers, and police on the Indigenous-led movement resisting fossil fuel extraction.
Appearing before the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Anne White Hat detailed widespread collusion that has led to industry-authored laws and violent arrests of protesters.
“Violence has been used for centuries here and around the world against people who challenge the concentration and misuse of power,” said Ms. White Hat. “This is nothing new to us, but what we experienced needs to be recognized by all as the coordinated assault on a movement.”
Read the full testimony on our website. The hearing, which includes Ms. White Hat’s testimony, is available on the Oversight Committee’s YouTube page. Ms. White Hat is introduced and begins speaking at around 35:20.
On Thursday, the Center for Constitutional Rights joined dozens of organizations to submit a complaint appealing the U.N. to hold the U.S. accountable for torture and racial discrimination through life sentences, aka Death by Incarceration (DBI).
“DBI is literally a term of confinement that condemns men, women, and children to die in prison,” said Robert Labar, Vernon Robinson, Charles Bassett, and Terrell Carter in a letter included in the complaint. They are members of the Right 2 Redemption Committee, formed by people sentenced to life without parole in Pennsylvania. “In doing this, the state is making the argument that it has the moral right to strip a human being of all hope and dignity until they die.”
DBI sentences, which include life without parole (LWOP), life with parole, and “virtual life” sentences: sentences that exceed life expectancy, condemn people across the country to a slow death penalty in prison with little to no hope of release, depriving over 200,000 people of basic human dignity and the opportunity for redemption and repair. DBI is the antithesis of justice.
Death by incarceration is the direct consequence of a cruel and racist legal system, designed to appease political pressure for a “tough on crime” response to violence, but never addressing the root causes of harm in our communities, or repairing it. Although Black people made up only 12.4 percent of the U.S. population in 2020, 46 percent of all those serving DBI sentences are Black. We’re urging the U.N. to call for an end to cruel and racist Death by Incarceration sentences now.
In 1987, we created the Ella Baker Summer Internship Program to honor the legacy of Ella Baker, a hero of the civil rights movement, and to train the next generation of social justice lawyers. Through our program, interns gain practical litigation experience and sharpen their theoretical understanding of the relationship between social change, organizing, and lawyering. Ella Baker Interns also become connected to a global community of social justice law students and lawyers through our Ella Baker Alumni Network.
We’ve now started our search for the 2022 cohort of Ella Baker interns. For more information, and to apply, head to the application page.
September 19, 2022