Brandon Ecoffey: South Dakota officers abuse water protectors

#NoDAPL riot police in North Dakota. Photo by Rob Wilson [GoFundMe]

SD Highway Patrol Abused Water Protectors
A note from the editor’s desk
By Brandon Ecoffey
Lakota Country Times Editor

Last week when news first broke that South Dakota had sent highway patrolmen to North Dakota to assist the Morton County Sheriff’s office Native people in this state took it in stride.

We have come to understand that the Republican agenda does not favor the interests of Indian Country. However, now that South Dakota Highway Patrolmen have been caught on camera assaulting and abusing water protectors it is time for Gov. Daugaard to bring them back.

The picture of two South Dakota Highway Patrolmen jabbing an unarmed water protector with batons, while three others spray mace, and slam her into the ground has been circulated far and wide via social media. The traditional media has all but ignored the insane levels of police brutality that has occurred there. South Dakota can no longer afford to be part of it.

I just watched a video of a young man being shot off a horse at point blank range by police using rubber bullets. I’ve heard people I know and trust tell stories of being stripped naked and left in cold jail cells for misdemeanor crimes. What the world has seen is our people being stored in cages and marked with numbers similar to those used in Auschwitz. I just spoke with a friend who was targeted by laser-sighted scopes at night while they prayed. Is this what these officers were sent there to do?

The saddest part of this whole ordeal is that Morton County has arrested a citizen of this state for recording police activity. I grew up with Shawn Turgeon who is now known by many as Prolifik the Rapper. He is a law-abiding citizen who was targeted by the Morton County Sheriff’s office for piloting a drone. It is unknown if he was actually the one flying it, but like many others, he was arrested as if he was a violent criminal and had bond of $100,000 placed on him. In what world does this make any sense?

What are police doing here that warrants the need of carrying out their activities under the cover of secrecy. What is even more disturbing is that the Morton County sheriff’s office has consistently been caught lying about the activities of protectors and the actions of their officers.

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Crow Creek has already ended its relationships with the state. Maybe it is time for the rest of the tribes to finally exercise their sovereignty by doing the same. Why would we work with a governor who has sent a modern day cavalry to attack our people?

(Brandon Ecoffey is the editor of LCT and is an award winning journalist who was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He can be reached at

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