Man’s Best Fiend

European power in the New World was established with the help of aggressive and intimidating dogs, specially bred for the purpose. And, as Tyler D. Parry reveals, the long history of canine violence against minority groups is still being written.

A civil rights activist is attacked by police dogs in Birmingham, Alabama, May 1963Indigenous peoples gathered at the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball rivers, near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, on September 3rd, 2016 to protest against the threat that the Dakota Access Pipeline posed to the area’s water source. If the pipeline leaks, it will poison the water supply on which thousands of people depend. Amy Goodman covered the protest for the US televison programme Democracy Now!, recording video evidence that showed protestors peacefully gathered to obstruct the machinery. As they chanted, employees of a private security company, with dogs and armed with pepper spray, advanced against them, instigating a conflict hauntingly familiar to students of American history. 

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