By Myrlia Purcell on
The Rev. Jesse Jackson and former Vice President Al Gore are the latest public figures to join the resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Gore released a statement saying, “I stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. We have witnessed inspiring and brave acts by Native Americans and their allies who are defending and trying to protect their sacred sites and the safety of their sole source of water.”
Civil rights activist Jackson arrived at the Standing Rock protest camp in North Dakota on Wednesday, where he told the Associated Press that he joined the water protectors “to pray together, protest together, and if necessary, go to jail together.”
Notable Arrests and Warrants
Actress Shailene Woodley is among those who have been arrested and strip-searched in the last several weeks. On October 10th, while streaming live on Facebook, she was taken away by armed police who singled her out from among hundreds of other peaceful protesters. She wrote about her reasons for being there for Time.com.
Independent journalist Jihan Hafiz is another who was in North Dakota to report on the situation, and was also arrested and strip searched. She told the RealNews.com about how some of the women were searched, saying, “The way they were stripped searched, it was very humiliating. I’m talking about, like, asking the women to lift their breasts, pull apart their cheeks, do jumping jacks and go up and down, cough.” She continued, pointing out that those arrested were peaceful protesters, who were praying, rather than violent criminals. “There’s video evidence that there was no one there being violent, so the fact that they used this type of behaviour toward peaceful protesters and journalists is really troubling.”
The RealNews.com video of Jihan’s interview after her arrest contains a warning: “Media, protect your cameras, protect yourself. They are coming after media first.”
Jihan’s filming equipment was not returned to her after her release.
Charges laid against those arrested include criminal trespass, which is a misdemeanor offense, and have raised concerns about possible free speech violations and press intimidation.
Award-winning broadcast journalist Amy Goodman was among those charged with criminal trespass, and later, rioting, when the trespassing charges were dropped, after she filmed security guards using pepper spray and dogs on protesters. While filming a dog that had been attacking protesters she says, “The dog has blood in its nose and its mouth. Why are you letting their – her – dog go after the protesters? It’s covered in blood.”
“This is an unacceptable violation of freedom of the press,” said Goodman in a statement. “I was doing my job by covering pipeline guards unleashing dogs and pepper spray on Native American protesters.”
Award-winning documentary filmmaker Deia Schlosberg has been threatened with 45 years in prison for filming an activist who turned off a TransCanada oil sands pipeline.
“I did not ever intend to be the story. It’s safe on this side of the camera usually,” Schlosberg told DeSmog Blog.
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is another who has had legal action threatened against her. As a play on US political ads, she spray-painted the words, “I approve this message” on a bulldozer at the site.
Dr. Stein does not deny the charges or criminal trespass and criminal mischief laid against her, however, and states, “I hope the North Dakota authorities press charges against the real vandalism taking place at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation: the bulldozing of sacred burial sites and the unleashing of vicious attack dogs.”
Supporting the Water Protectors
“Going to stand with the Sioux Indians today in North Dakota to preserve the land & the sacred sites,” wrote actor Mark Ruffalo.
Ruffalo arrived in North Dakota on Tuesday, and with Wahleah Johns, founder of Native Renewables, delivered Navajo-made solar trailers on Wednesday, which will power the encampments of the water protectors.
On Tuesday night, he took part in a panel with the Indigenous Environmental Network.
“They are very antagonistic to people trying to save their water, they’re made out to be criminals. But each time they hit us, they lose. The more quiet and serene we are in the depth of that violence, the faster we win,” he said. “That’s where our strength is: we’re right and they know we’re right. It’s scary. I’m scared, but when we come together our fear drops.”
Leonardo DiCaprio wrote on Facebook: “Stand with the Standing Rock Sioux in their opposition of the Dakota Access Pipeline which threatens our climate.” It has been reported that he is heading to Standing Rock this week.
Matt McGorry has been working to raise awareness, sharing news items such as “Dakota Access pipeline protesters face off against armed police in riot gear” with his followers on Twitter, and donation information on Instagram
The Justice League have also spoken out:
The protests against the controversial pipeline have led to the largest gathering of Native Americans in more than 100 years. People from over 50 tribes across the country have gathered to defend their right to clean water. The BBC reports that over 3000 people have taken part in the protest since April.
“This is the first time the seven bands of the Sioux have come together since [the Battle of] Little Bighorn [in 1876],” Hawste Wakiyan Wicasa, one of the people living in a tent at protest camp in the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, told the BBC. “Now, we have no weapons, only prayers. We are here for what our ancestors fought and died for. We have endured 250 years of betrayal by the white man.”
The Standing Rock Sioux, other tribes and environmental groups are concerned that the water supplies for millions of people are at risk. Greenpeace and the Sierra Club are among more than 30 environmental groups who have signed a letter to President Obama calling the project “yet another example of an oil pipeline project being permitted without public engagement or sufficient environmental review.”
The possibility of leaks is a concern, as the pipeline would carry 470,000 barrels of volatile Bakken crude to Illinois each day, travelling across 1,168 miles of land – some of which has been taken from farmers under the guise of eminent domain. Its route crosses the Ogallala Aquifer and the Missouri River, which provide water for millions of people.
According to a Reuters analysis of government data, the company responsible for operating the DAPL, Sunoco Logistics, spills crude more often than any of its competitors, with more than 200 leaks reported since 2010. Sunoco Logistics spilled 55,000 gallons of gasoline into the Susquehanna River a week ago.
“It’s not a question of if the pipeline leaks – it’s a question of when,” Susan Sarandon told CNSNews.com at a rally on the steps of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. "We have the history of what happens with these pipelines. That’s the most important thing.
“And we have the history of what we’ve been doing to Native American peoples for the last 500 years and it’s time to listen to them and stop,” Sarandon said.
Protecting the Past
Former Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders rallied against the pipeline in September, saying, “There are several basic issues that we’re discussing today and number one is the end of the exploitation of Native American people, and the respect of Native American rights, period, end of discussion.”
He more recently led the call to ask President Obama to suspend all construction permits, penning a letter with a handful of other Senate Democrats, writing,
“Over the past several weeks, hundreds of Native American tribes have mobilized in unprecedented solidarity to draw attention to the pipeline’s encroachment on sacred lands. Nationally, there has been a groundswell of opposition to the project. The pipeline’s construction is not only a violation of the tribal treaty rights, but has the potential to cause more damage to sacred land. Until there has been full and meaningful tribal consultation, all pipeline permits and easements should be revoked or denied.”
Tribal Chairman David Archambault II said, “Dakota Access Pipeline and Energy Transfer Partners brazenly used bulldozers to destroy our burial sites, prayer sites and culturally significant artifacts. They did this on a holiday weekend, one day after we filed court papers identifying these sacred sites.”
“I surveyed this land and we confirmed multiple graves and specific prayer sites,” said Tim Mentz, the Standing Rock Sioux’s former tribal historic preservation officer, in the tribal press release. “Portions, and possibly complete sites, have been taken out entirely.”
The Atlantic reported in its piece, The Legal Case for Blocking the Dakota Access Pipeline that in cases where a federal agency undertakes or approves a construction project, if must first consult with local Native nations or tribes about nearby sacred sites, whether or not the project is near reservation land. The committee in charge of historic preservation on behalf of Congress clearly decrees that “regulations require Federal Agencies to consult with Indian tribes when they attach religious and cultural significance to a historic property regardless of the location of that property.”
“We have so much we can learn from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other Native American tribes,” wrote Pharrell Williams on Facebook. “The children of Standing Rock ran 2,200 miles on foot to Washington, DC to save their sacred land from the oil industry. Let’s help protect them so they can continue to live in peace #rezpectourwater”.
#NoDAPL #ProtectCleanWater #IStandWithStandingRock #MniWiconi #rezpectourwater
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