It is my belief that local politics always have a role in national and international issues when they concern human rights issues that affect all of us. As an example, we can look to the historical precedent of apartheid-era South Africa, in which the world united to take a stand against a government with deeply repressive and violently racist policies.
We live in an era in which powerful corporations operate on an overwhelming level, exerting pressure and influence on local, national and global legislation and policy to their financial benefit at the cost of human and environmental rights.
We also find ourselves at a serious tipping point in terms of climate change, and we are connected in unprecedented ways by the internet and social media, so we can respond more quickly to the issues that connect us.
Sonoma Valley has a direct connection to the Dakota Access Pipeline through six local banks which are financing the pipeline; specifically Bank of America, Citi, Chase, Union Bank, US Bank and Wells Fargo. We have Sonoma residents at Standing Rock as we speak, delivering supplies and standing with water protectors against great obstacles.
Environmental protections are an important part of the culture of Sonoma Valley — at the same time it must be said that our history, like anywhere else in the United States, includes the massacre and displacement of the indigenous people of this valley.
At a time when local tribes have passed resolutions and journeyed to Standing Rock to voice their opposition to the pipeline and support for the Standing Rock Sioux, it is important that we support them, as well as all of the people in Sonoma Valley who have answered the call for solidarity.
What I have heard consistently is that the water protectors are holding the line for all of us, and I believe that to be true. Water is vital to all of us. Without clean water, there is no agriculture, there is no wine industry, there is no life.
The United Nations has already set a precedent with the 2006 Rights of Indigenous Peoples Declaration and the 2011 General Assembly Resolution of the Human Rights Council, which addresses the undeniable links between environmental and human rights. We are a global community that must come together around these kinds of issues. This is a time in which I see our future on this planet being challenged by interests which place a value on profits above humanity.
As a commission tasked with providing leadership, guidance, and assistance in assuring that all members of our community, especially those among us who are marginalized or disadvantaged, enjoy the full range of human rights to which every person is entitled, we chose to raise our voices on this issue.
I urge the City of Sonoma to adopt a similar proclamation in opposition to DAPL along with our neighboring cities of Sebastopol, Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco.
I also wanted to express my sincere thanks to all of the members of the public who have attended commission meetings to voice their opinions on this issue, and this is not the last time you will hear from us.
We’re working on some upcoming programs and events to help bring the community together in the face of an incoming administration that hasn’t yet demonstrated a commitment to human rights, so our work is cut out for us.
Dmitra Smith, Vice Chair
Sonoma County Commission on Human Rights