No Coast At This Border

We left Redfield before sunup.

The eastern sky, seen over Terry’s and Mary Kay’s farmyard.
Agribusiness complexes abound.
This 2-lane road has a 70 (!) mph speed limit.
In Aberdeen, SD, Leonard agreed that refugees and asylum applicants don’t get a fair shake. He told a personal story of injustice: he slowed his car to make a turn, his car was rear-ended, and he was ticketed for driving too slowly.
Shon (rhymes with dawn), who works with concrete, freely shared his recent move from California as part of a rehab program. He gave blessings to us, and to Human Rights First a big thumbs-up. We wish him well in his new life.
L to R: Guerry, Kristie. New South Dakota fans of Human RIghts First.
L to R: LaDonna, John. These friendly folks farm and ranch. We spent most of our time together discussing the Ride. When Jeffrey explained how asylum applicants can have counsel only “at no expense to the government” while the government provides free counsel for people less dire consequences in criminal court, John acknowledged the injustice.
Good thing we’re not taking this road.
Nor this one.

Today’s route was flat. So there were no downhills. So we couldn’t coast. Jeffrey had to pedal, pedal, pedal, for 7 hours.

In light rain, we entered No. 47 of the Lower 48 States. Jeffrey found a stick to put in a pole-hole to hang me in my carry-bag. In treeless western farming states, sticks are scarce.

Tonight we’re in Ellendale (pop. 1125), the seat of Dickey County, North Dakota.

Wally checked us in.

Wally retired from U.S. government service as a law enforcement expert sent to places Jeffrey’s clients fled: Haiti, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Liberia, and others.

Wally knows firsthand the horrors told to Jeffrey by his clients.

The deep poverty of Haiti, where officials and criminals terrorize and steal, and vendors sell patties of clay, salt and vinegar to people who want something in their stomachs and can’t afford food.

The atrocities of Liberia; Wally and Jeffrey agreed that their most shocking stories of persecution come from Liberia.

The despair of Afghan people who helped Americans, then were abandoned by America to face retaliation. Wally wrote letter after letter to save an Afghan woman and her family, who arrived this week in California. It was too late for the woman’s father, who was murdered by the Taliban.

The sight of Bosnian elders brought low, scrambling to grab a bit of airdropped food.

And more.

Wally considers himself “conservative”; we don’t know what that means. We see Wally as a person of common sense and humanity. A student of history, he decries American ignorance of the past and present. He has seen, he knows, how good people are persecuted, and how stingy our government is about helping the victims of some of the messes we’ve helped make.

Wally came to North Dakota with his spouse.

Jennie, like Jeffrey, knows vicariously what Wally has seen abroad. Jennie too had a career in law enforcement. Now she’s an expert in hotel management.

Wally introduced Jeffrey to Professor Rob Michitsch of the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point.

Rob used to live in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Rob is an expert in soil and waste resources.

Rob and his colleagues distribute these stickers.

Rob is in North Dakota to supervise the experimental composting of millions of turkeys euthanized after contracting avian flu. Composting appears superior to burial or incineration. He and Jeffrey talked science … and of course, refugee rights, which Canada respects more than does the USA.

The Covid pandemic shows that learning how to protect public health through science is half the battle. The other half is convincing people to follow the science.

Promoting human rights is simpler. It’s just about convincing people.

We hope that, today, we convinced a few.

2 thoughts on “No Coast At This Border

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