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 U.S. Supreme Court. This past couple of weeks brought us three horrendous examples of systemic disregard for women: the Brett Kavanaugh nomination hearings, the acquittal of William Hoehn in the Savannah Greywind murder, and an obscure case in Alaska.
Let me explain.
Now let me be clear, I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. I am registered as a Green. So, Rep. Kevin Cramer, who is challenging Sen. Heidi Heitkamp suggested that physical assault-even if it's true-should not disqualify Kavanaugh from the Supreme Court. Cramer's comments made it seem absurd. "My point was that there was no type of intercourse or anything like that," Cramer said. "That was my point, that nothing happened in terms of a sexual event beyond, obviously, the attack."..."Well she admits she was a 15-year-old that had been drinking at a party that-I mean, how many 15-year-olds handle a lot of alcohol, you know, 36 years ago? " Asked about Cramer's comments, Heitkamp communications director, Julia Krieger, said he displayed "a stunning lack of empathy for victims and the trauma they experience." In the end, he is affirmed and we watch woman after woman come under public scrutiny as they relive one of the most searing traumas of life. So, North Dakota's enlightened family values folks what say you? Cramer, along with Sen. John Hoeven supported the nomination, and discredited Heitkamp. To cut to the quick, we have a president who has groped and according to sworn testimony assaulted a woman, and a Supreme Court justice who looks like his frat buddy. Is there any shame in America, or any real moral turpitude at all?
And then there's the tragedy of Savanna Greywind. An all-white jury, well let's say there was one brown person, acquitted William Hoehn of murder conspiracy, although he admitted tightening a rope around Greywind's neck after his girlfriend cut the baby from her womb. That's what he did to 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. 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.
Sen. Heitkamp does the right thing in this case and introduces Savanna's Act, which aims to improve tribal access to federal crime information databases and create standardized protocols for responding to cases of missing and slain Native American women. She supports Native women and children, and then is pressured by the North Dakota establishment and her opponent, Cramer, to not take a stand for women in the Kavanaugh case. What the heck North Dakota?
Finally, there's this: Justin Schneider, an Anchorage resident, was accused of kidnapping, choking and sexually abusing a 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 a Native 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. The victim was an Alaska Native woman, a group that faces the highest sexual assault rate at 42 percent.
Back 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. He then has three years of supervised probation. 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 its 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 this week?
LaDuke is executive director, Honor the Earth, and an Ojibwe writer and economist on Minnesota’s White Earth Reservation. She is a regular contributor to The Forum’s opinion pages.