The “Ride for Lights” Campaign

Today we are launching the “RIDE FOR LIGHTS” Campaign – to raise awareness and funds needed to put an end to the abuses and human rights violations taking place today on the Crow Creek Reservation- Once and for all!

So, for the 13 days between December 13th -26th, I will ride on horseback alongside others in the “Mankato Reconciliation Ride” that honors the 38 people who were killed in the largest mass execution in the history of United States on December 26, 1862 in Mankato, MN. On that day, 38 Dakota men were marched in single file to a scaffold guarded by 1,400 troops in full battle dress. The pull of a single lever ended the lives of 38 Dakota men as a crowd of citizens witnessed the largest mass execution on US soil in the history of United States. In addition to the mass execution, 265 Dakota men were sent to prison near Davenport Iowa while 1,300 Dakota men, women, and children were exiled to a concentration camp known today as The Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota.

I will participate in this ride to raise awareness of the injustices the residents of Crow Creek continue to suffer. The goal of CAN-DO’s “RIDE FOR LIGHTS” Campaign is to establish a fund to ensure that NO ONE on the Crow Creek Reservation goes without power this winter.

Be the first to join our national “RIDE FOR LIGHTS” Campaign. We need you to make this a success and to be completely honest, I am really nervous to ride 330 miles on horseback in the dead of winter….I NEED your support, it is the ONLY thing that will keep me on this horse for 13 days (besides a rope tied to my waist and attached to the saddle 😉

I know that with supporters like you, we can raise awareness and the funds needed to help keep the power on for the people of Crow Creek. We need your help to get pledges for every mile we ride to restore the rights of these people. Make a straight donation or make a pledge per mile. Pledge $1 per mile, $5 per mile…anything will help. I have to admit, being from Boston I do not have much riding experience and I really need your support to keep me on that horse and get me through the 330 miles of the ride so together, we can shine a brighter future on the Crow Creek Reservation. This historic event will be broadcast LIVE via www.VirtualVolunteer.tv. An event like this has never been done before and during the ride I will celebrate my 40th birthday on December 19th and without your support, I may not make it to 40 ;).

In August of 2008 after hearing horror stories about the poverty stricken conditions and the blatant human-rights violations and abuses that the residents of Crow Creek, South Dakota suffer, CAN-DO delivered emergency supplies to the Reservation. During this trip, I was fortunate enough to meet Crow Creek tribal member and former Marine Peter Lengeek, a man who was fed up with watching his people suffer at the hands of the local electric company and their continued disregard for human life. In March of 2008, Peter picked up a video camera and captured these abuses. After my first trip to Crow Creek and talking with Peter, he handed me the video tapes he’d shot to document these abuses and asked that I please get the footage to anyone that would listen.

When I got home and viewed the tapes, I was shocked at what I saw. Workers from Central Electric Cooperative were documented literally pulling an electric meter just days before a blizzard. (WATCH VIDEO)

Let me give you an example of what they deal with on a regular basis: Crow Creek residents may receive a bill for say, $250 for the month but they can only afford $200. Instead of the electric co. allowing partial payment, they cut the power. They do this, even though the US Dept of Health and Human Services states “There will be no disconnect in inclement weather if a customer, agrees to and adheres to payment plan.” In addition to the US Health and Human Services policy , South Dakota’s state “Protection Policy” guarantees that “no power will be cut during the Protection Policy period, November 7th to March 31st.” [http://liheap.ncat.org/Disconnect/disconnect.htm] This continues to happen today.

One example of a typical scenario when these “policies”are not honored: Lets say a resident cannot afford their $250+ electric bill and the power is cut. In order for the resident to get their power turned back on they must first pay the original bill plus disconnect, reconnect, traveling fees, etc…so now, the bill has doubled and the home owner is expected to pay $600+. With a median income of $5,000 a year and an unemployment rate of 80%; how can the residents be expected pay these bills and put food on their tables?!

When power is disconnected, families are not only left in the cold, but pipes freeze and there is no water for cooking, drinking, bathing or flushing toilets. Many of these households have family members whose lives depend upon electronic medical equipment such as nebulizers. Ironically, these people are charged some of the highest electricity rates in the state even though they live adjacent to the Big Bend Hydro-Electric Dam on the Missouri River generating power on their land.

The “kicker” is, the residents of Crow Creek were promised free power before the Hydro-Electric dam was built on their land. Despite our constant documentation, national outreach, and discussions with the power company, this documented practice of illegitimately cutting power continues today.

I understand that people must pay their bills. But, in this case and under the circumstances, how the hell can they? Bottom line, this is not going to stop unless we do something now. And we need you. Watch the video and judge for yourself.

Please, write to the Senators and government officials listed in the [Crow Creek Takes Their Voice D.C. video]. Get the word out via Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, emails and any press contacts you may have. We can make a difference and stop these violations. Help put an end to these abuses.

Make Human Rights a priority here at home and please don’t forget to tune in to www.VirtualVolunteer.tv and “join” us LIVE throughout our 13 day journey from Lower Brule, SD to Mankato, MN. (follow us on twitter for live updates)

Enough is enough!

Thank you for your support…I cannot do this with out you!

Eric Klein

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