Don’t Act in Frustration–Amanda Pratt, Hoopa CA
Don’t Act in Frustration, Be Aggressively Active
OP-ED by Amanda Pratt
I love this country however, I realize that for such great nation, we are in one of the worst shapes possible. We have a financial crisis and our jobless rate is at an all-time high. Our national leaders cannot agree to disagree; indeed, America is experiencing a tumultuous time. Considering the national debt, joblessness and incompatible leaders, it’s no wonder that movements like “Occupy Wall Street” headline the news. While considering that our local government is also in a similar situation, it isn’t any wonder that we’re struggling in Hoopa. The two most notable troubles in our midst are theft and drug trafficking. Considering those problems, combined with growing frustration, why haven’t we started our own type of “Occupy Wall Street” yet? Some sort of movement is necessary to raise awareness for our growing concerns.
Recently a known thief, and an accomplice, allegedly held homeowners at gunpoint while robbing their home. The sad part of this incident was that it wasn’t shocking to hear that another robbery occurred, nor did the identity of the main suspect take anyone by surprise; one Facebook post plainly stated, “he’s at it again!” and advised everyone to lock their doors and windows. This casual attitude seemed to imply for valley residents to sit and wait for the thief to be caught, while praying he wouldn’t come anywhere near our homes. The Hoopa people have become desensitized to such horrendous acts and seem to find it easier to shoulder the blame of recklessness toward our officers and elected officials.
Well, if this valley truly wants social revolution, we need to stop expressing disappointments on media sites. The crimes aren’t happening on Facebook; they’re happening next door and down the road. We must demand action from those who are sworn to protect and serve us. It’s also important to demand action from friends and neighbors. One may ask how to take action. Obviously be cautious, lock your doors and windows. Be sure to secure your vehicles, in a locked garage if possible. But that’s for material possessions. Measures must be taken to secure Hoopa’s reputation and standard of safety and well-being. This means citizens should patrol the streets and set up their own alert system, perhaps like a text service whenever anything is awry. It is my understanding that HCOP (Hoopa Citizens on Patrol) is reinforced by KTAC (Klamath-Trinity Anti-drug Coalition). Why aren’t there more volunteers to enable and support associations such as KTAC and HCOP? As a matter of fact, you don’t have to belong to an organization to take action; you can just be an active community member, who isn’t afraid to raise the red flag. In other words, public safety associations, as well as tribal police cannot be singled out for all illegal activity. If we want this madness to stop, we must all stop it together.
While on the subject of tribal police, the common feeling of lack of safety is disheartening. We all know each other; our kids know each other and most of us are related. We are a close community, we shouldn’t feel unsafe; but we do and sadly, we feel a certain disdain toward our tribal law enforcement. Recently, according to public information, an annual budget was passed and the tribal chief of police reportedly received a pay raise; this implication angered many. The general attitude is that if criminals continue to run rampant and drug traffickers continue to prey on our people, then there’s an obvious lack of police force and no one should be paid for something they don’t do. So what do we do? Again, I tell you to take action. Stop discussing inadequate policies at home and take your opinions public. While I initially respect the notion of those who risk their lives to protect and serve, we mustn’t sugarcoat any situation because of personal relationships. We cannot tolerate inaction because an officer is a cousin, or because the judge is a dear friend of the family. I encourage you start a safety committee; join an existing committee and work to collaborate with our law officials. Power is in numbers and the more people rally the more guarantee that we’ll get resolutions.
Take action and also stand against the disgusting disease of drug addiction in this beautiful valley. If it weren’t for drugs, there wouldn’t be as much criminal activity that we’ve been seeing for the past few years. The sad fact is that every one of us knows someone who is addicted to drugs; it doesn’t matter if it is prescription medications, street narcotics or recreational marijuana, substance abuse is the greatest detriment to society. On a local level, we’ve seen too many promising individuals morph into troubled zombies. I know the struggle with drugs isn’t an easy obstacle for anyone to conquer. When someone feels that they have no one to turn to and they have nothing to lose, they will risk their life to fulfill the only habit that comforts them. I feel with all the anger, frustration and targeting of addicts in our community, we have inadvertently out casted the people who need our help the most. While no one should enable drug addicted friends/family members, neither should we turn them away. The sort of “tough love or no love” thinking is intended for a way of life that isn’t ours. We are aboriginal people, bound forever by tribal ancestry and we need each other in that sense.
As for those who choose to poison our people by trafficking/selling drugs to our kids and families, they are lost humans and need to be dealt with accordingly. In the outside world, taking action against a dealer isn’t easy and in actuality, is not advisable. But a body of a united community will outweigh the strong arm of drugs. The well-known dealers in Hoopa are part of our ancestry too. There must be a connection in the fact that we are one people. Simply confronting the individuals seems to be an impressive enough start. We all know who they are and many of us come into daily contact with them. For those who do, I urge you to ask them why they want our people to die; ask them why they feel that their illicit greed justifies the murder of tribal integrity, and if you are really interested in seeing a radical change, ask them to leave the valley. Who knows, maybe in order to find the right direction, all that those lost individuals need is someone with a listening ear.
However, if one wanted to go to an extreme, I like the idea of posting drug dealers pictures, the way Megan’s Law requires for sex offenders. Maybe take the initiative to pass a law that would have convicted dealers live under similar regulations that sex offenders must follow; regulations such as not allowing them to live near the community in which they laid offense, to not contact anyone under 18, to wear a monitoring bracelet and to register each year as an offender, until the day they die. When you commit crime, your civil rights should no longer be a privilege, so the right to privacy should also be forfeited. Drug dealers are quality of life offenders and need to be held accountable for their torrid crimes against humanity.
I believe in the power of people. When people stand in solidarity they are an unstoppable force equal to the notion of god. People always say we need change; well ladies and gentlemen, we are the change we’ve been waiting for. Unless we take action and speak now, our frustrations and problems won’t go away. We need to take action against our troubles, by writing letters of interest to newspapers and elected officials; we need to be more politically active by diligently attending public forums and council meetings; by visiting the tribal office more often and speaking to our council members; we need to set up a more effective safety network, such as a chat line or mobile warning system to share tips and alerts whenever anything is out of the ordinary; most of all, we need to take action by just working together, because it’s the right thing to do and because it is our humanitarian responsibility.
In conclusion, I would like to state that my esteem and pride comes from the same place that I hold the love for my heritage; I love America, I love this tribe; I love this country and I love this valley. I hope that those of you who have heard this can relate and also love your people enough to want to take action, and take it now. Take a stand and become active in our community. Do not let corrupted hands beat the body of assembled peace and civility. Because regardless of any crisis, nationally, globally or locally, we are all one nation, under god, we must be indivisible and demand liberty and justice for all.