By Winona LaDuke
“Half the women you know have been forced to relive some of the worst traumas of their lives on loop for the past month, so I don’t know, maybe buy a coffee for a woman you care about…”
– Rachel Claire
I would like a system which works. A judicial system which brings justice, a regulatory system which provides reasonable decisions for public and environmental health, and a government system which does not award sexual assailants seats on the Supreme Court.
October brought us three horrendous examples of the disregard for women: the Kavanaugh nomination hearings, the acquittal of William Hoehn in the Savannah Greywind murder, and an obscure case in Alaska. Let me explain.
“The American Bar Association says the Senate should not hold a confirmation vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court until the FBI has investigated sexual assault allegations against him.” That makes remarkable sense.
Citing the ABA’s “respect for the rule of law and due process,” ABA President Robert Carlson wrote in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, “The basic principles that underscore the Senate’s constitutional duty of advice and consent on federal judicial nominees require nothing less than a careful examination of the accusations and facts by the FBI.” After all, he’s a Supreme Court nominee. In the meantime, we are watching woman after woman come under public scrutiny as they relive one of the most searing traumas of their lives.
When Sen. Amy Klobuchar – who prefaced her questions with an anecdote about her own father’s alcoholism – asked Kavanaugh if he had ever blacked out, the judge snapped, “Have you?” Even after she repeated the question, once again Kavanaugh sneered: “I’m curious if you have.”
That’s probably not something we should hear from a nominee for the highest court in the Nation. In that moment, it was not hard to imagine the belligerent, drunk Brett Kavanaugh as described by his former classmates.
So, let me get this straight; we have a President who has groped (“Grab them by the pussy”) and according to sworn testimony, assaulted women, and a Supreme Court nominee who looks like his frat buddy. We now await the outcome of a Trump approved “limited supplemental investigation” by the FBI due in less than a week. That’s supposed to represent justice at the highest levels? Is there any shame in this country, or any real moral turpitude at all?
And then there’s the tragedy of Savanna Greywind. An all-white jury (well, there was one brown person) acquitted William Hoehn of murder conspiracy charges for tightening a rope around Savanna’s neck after his girlfriend cut the baby from her womb. That’s what he did to Savanna Greywind last August. He would have faced life in prison if convicted of the charge. Hoehn admitted to helping cover up the crime, but denied knowing anything about the plan to kill Greywind and take her baby. Most of us find that very odd. He was earlier ordered to serve 20 years in prison for the cover-up, but the jurors in the conspiracy trial were not informed of that sentence.
Finally there’s this: Justin Schneider an Anchorage resident was accused of kidnapping, choking and sexually abusing a Native woman. He avoided a jail sentence after the prosecutor told the judge he was giving the man a “pass.”
According to Anchorage police, Justin Schneider, was giving a ride to the woman, attacked her, choking her until she lost consciousness and then masturbated on her in August 2017. The woman escaped, covered with his semen and called authorities. Schneider will serve no time behind bars because he received credit for time served wearing an ankle monitor at home with his family after his arrest.
In remarks to the judge, Schneider offered no apology to his victim. Instead, he expressed his gratitude for “this process”. “It has given me a year to really work on myself and become a better person, and a better husband, and a better father, and I’m very eager to continue that journey,” Schneider said.
Alaska Department of Law Criminal Division Director John Skidmore reviewed the case and said it was “consistent with, and reasonable, under current sentencing laws in Alaska.” Alaska has some of the highest sexual assault and domestic violence rates in the nation. Alaska Native women face the sexual assault rate at 42 percent, the highest in the state.
Meanwhile, in North Dakota, Chief Judge Daniel Hovland sentenced Michael Markus to 36 months in federal prison for DAPL protests, essentially for being a Water Protector. “How would you feel if someone went through your family cemetery and plowed through? “Markus said before Hovland.
North Dakota is a pretty worrisome place. I’ve heard it said that states are the laboratory for democracy. If that’s the case, North Dakota might be a meth lab. Let me be honest, I’d like a system that works. I’d like justice, fair governance and peace.
There’s a Cheyenne saying: “A nation is not conquered until the hearts of it’s women are on the ground.” My heart is not on the ground, my heart grieves, and I am sick to my stomach. I would like justice. And to the smug politicians who talk about family values, what say you about how women should feel in North Dakota, Alaska or America now?