Protest tactics came to life on Saturday at PG, where attendees at Evansville Letters to Prisoners' event could learn how to "lock down" to equipment, create barricades, make face masks out of everyday items, shield themselves from state violence, and compile and use a street medic kit.
Participants could also make prayer ties and participate in a drum circle facilitated by members of a group of native and non-native people who meet regularly to drum. The repeated rounds of drumming throughout the event echoed the role that spirituality has played at Standing Rock. Drummers carried in mind a particular intention during each round of drumming, including positive intentions for water protectors and hope that those seen as enemies--cops, security personnel, politicians--change their minds and hearts.
Gabe Neville, who performed a music and poetry set at the event, had been to Standing Rock over the summer and helped to plan the event in Evansville. He said that when he went to Standing Rock, there was a lot to learn--what's "nonviolent direct action," what's a "sleeping dragon," how do you get tear gas to stop burning? "If I could have gone to something like this in Evansville beforehand," said Neville, "it would have been so helpful when I got to Standing Rock."
Rob Z. also shared Standing Rock-inspired music and spoken word, including a reading of the last vision of Crazy Horse in 1877: "...the Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for a sick world...and the young white ones will come to those of my people... [W]e shall be as one." Crazy Horse's statement has been read by some as a foretelling of the momentum for resistance at Standing Rock.
One member of Evansville Letters to Prisoners, Brandon Cox, said he hopes that the event "exposed things that are going on [at Standing Rock] that the mainstream media doesn't cover" and showed people that "the state's tactics are getting worse--sound cannons, body armor, rubber bullets, concussion grenades, pepper spray, tasers."
One display at the event depicted injuries from "less-lethal" (rubber) bullets and a police grenade that exploded inside protesterSophia Wilansky's arm. Another protester, Vanessa Dundon, was struck in the face with a teargas cannister shot by police during a protest at Standing Rock, an injury that may lead to loss of vision in her right eye.
A mural showed various law enforcement agencies involved at Standing Rock--National Guard, police, sheriffs, private security--and some of their weapons--attack dogs, tear gas cannisters, guns, and surveillance equipment.
One organizer mentioned that the information on government surveillance and violence could help attendees stay safer in struggles in Evansville or elsewhere and that exposure to protest tactics could give event attendees ideas and increased comfort in applying those tactics in their own lives.
The atmosphere at the event was complete with a burnt car part and tire blockade at the entrance, a plywood and log bridge to walk from room to room, and an interactive debate on whether or not to "mask up" in confrontations with the police.
Attendees were invited to write letters to indigenous water protector Red Fawn Fallis, who is currently in jail facing felony charges after being arrested at Standing Rock. Political prisoners Oso Blanco, Leonard Peltier and Bill Dunne were also featured.
There was also a display in memory of Clark Fitzgerald, who died in a car wreck en route to Standing Rock.
The event concluded with performances by Tight Space, NAGAS, and Boneclaw. About one hundred people passed through the event, bringing in a total of $350 for Standing Rock.
To view more photos from the event, see our gallery page.