Sam Cook of the Duluth News Tribune, who has a way of putting his couch-anchored readers out in the woods, asks in his column today, “Do you want to know how the hunting has been this fall?”
Then he tells us his takeaways from a life afield in Minnesota:
** A black Lab chugging back to the floating duck blind with a Canada goose in his jaws. All we see is goose and a bit of the dog’s back. His head is completely hidden by a goose wing flopped over his face and still he comes, his unseen feet churning through the weeds and water, back to the boat. How does he even know where to go?
** A grouse hunter picks up a bird he has just shot from where it lies on a tapestry of burnished popple leaves. He turns the bird slowly in his hand, feels its warmth, its soft feathers. With his double-barrel shotgun cracked open, he holds the bird in both hands and fans its rusty tail feathers. The arc of feathers, the black accent band near the end of each feather, the subtlety of pigmentation throughout — how is this not art on some level?
** Sitting in a duck blind before shooting hours, Orion and all of his fellow constellations looking down upon us. Three hunters, full of anticipation. The decoys are placed. We wait. And listen. Here now, from behind, a squadron of diving ducks. The air rushes over their wings and the sound — every duck hunter will tell you this — is the not-so-distant passing of an F-16. It raises the hackles on your neck. It grabs something deep in your chest. The first time you hear it, you do not understand. Could that have been the primary wing feathers of waterfowl ripping through the atmosphere? Yes. And it never gets old.
** A milkweed pod exploding in cottony white puffs, dolloped with October dew, is backlit by a sunrise, every one of its chocolate-colored seeds hoping to ride the wind that day and descend on soft soil.
Perhaps no jury verdict since O.J. Simpson’s has sparked such a discussion on race and the judicial system as yesterday’s surprise “not guilty” verdict against the armed protesters — all white — who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, protesting what they said was government overeach.
The verdict came the same day authorities broke up a protest in North Dakota by Native Americans who don’t want an oil pipeline across what they say is sacred ground.
The jury in Oregon was all white.
“They’re basically giving a free to pass to other militia groups that want to organize in Oregon and other rural parts of the United States,” Carlos Covarrubias, who leads a monthly discussion on race in the Portland area, told the Oregon Live. “The ramifications could be dangerous.”
“Maybe this is a lesson that that’s not the way to engage with these people, who want nothing more than just to be heard, just to have a forum to talk about the injustices like the case of the Hammonds and the treatment of ranchers,” Lisa Ludwig, standby counsel for Ryan Bundy, one of the leaders of the militia, told the Oregonian newspaper.
Lisa Maxfield, who represented Wampler, came out of the courthouse, holding up her fists. She said she has never seen “anything like this happen,” where multiple defendants in a federal trial were all acquitted. It was one of the most significant cases in her career, she said.
“It’s a tremendous victory for rural America,” Wampler said outside the courthouse as supporter and fellow refuge occupier Brand Nu Thornton blew his shofar and another man rode his horse back and forth, hoisting an American flag.
But others, like Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the Center for Western Priorities, worried the verdicts would spur other similar armed standoffs against the government’s control of public lands that involve the militia.
“We are deeply disappointed in today’s verdict, which puts our park rangers and scientists at further risk just for doing their jobs. The outcome of today’s trial will undoubtedly embolden extremist groups,” Rokala said. ” It’s imperative that local, state, and federal law enforcement ensure the safety of our land managers.”
These folks, pictured here possessing firearms in a federal facility, were just acquitted of possessing firearms in a federal facility. pic.twitter.com/V7Hf6XxTDA
It is impossible to ignore race here. This was a group of armed white people, mostly men, taking over a facility. Just imagine: What would happen if a group of armed black men, protesting police brutality, tried to take over a police facility and hold it hostage for more than a month? Would they even come out alive and get to trial? Would a jury find them and their cause relatable, making it easier to send them back home with no prison time?
One doesn’t have to do much imagining here, either. The social science is pretty clear: People are much more likely to look at black people and see criminals and wrongdoers. They don’t get the privilege of innocence in the same way that white people — including these militants in Oregon — do.
One of those found not guilty promised more protests.
This picture, from the Morton County, N.D., Sheriff’s Department, from the scene of the Dakota Access Pipeline protest could — and should — spark another discussion about that equipment the U.S. government gave away to police departments with all the money it had to fight terrorism.
Is this pretty much what they had in mind when launching the “war on terrorism?”
Baby Boomers, the same crowd that put ABBA in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, thank you very much, will probably put up some sort of spirited defense against a column by the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank. . But there’s one problem with trying: Milbank has a point. Read more →
The last time the people of Edina knew what it was like not to win the girl’s state tennis tournament, there was a Clinton in the White House, the Dow was breaking through 6,000, Princess Diana and Prince Charles were still married, and the DVD player had just been introduced. Read more →
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has been protesting the pipeline, fearing it could destroy the tribe’s water. The pipeline was rerouted from north of Bismarck because of environmental concerns there. The tribe says the construction will destroy sacred ground.
Today’s must-read item comes from Mara Gottfried at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, who tells the story of Ali Bility, a 17-year-old who was in the starting lineup last night when Como Park’s football squad took the field.
Suffering from depression, Bility had attempted suicide last winter. Read more →
The people who work at newspapers drive the local news agenda. What they can’t do — as the St. Cloud Times’ story today proved again — is provide coverage of the execution of a community’s soul. Read more →
We have a little more information to share with you today on yesterday’s top story where police in Portland, Maine arrested a tree while cross a street. Asher Woodworth said he wanted you to rethink your expectations. Read more →