By Glynn Wilson –
MOBILE, Ala. — People around the country and across the globe held demonstrations, rallies and marches protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline in Cannon Ball, North Dakota on Tuesday as the Standing Rock Sioux continued their vigil in the Sacred Stone camp at the confluence of the Missouri and Cannon Ball rivers.
Vermont Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stole the show in Washington, D.C. in front of the White House on Tuesday in a live Facebook video, while defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was a no show.
Sanders followed up on Wednesday with a major speech at George Washington University, also broadcast live on Facebook.
Hundreds flooded into the streets of New York, Los Angeles, London and other cities Tuesday to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux. They took over San Francisco’s Market Street, blocking traffic on the major city artery for two hours, while calling for an end to the planned 1,172-mile crude oil conduit they see as a potential disaster for sacred American Indian land.
Holding signs reading “Water is life” and “We are here to protect,” groups formed in 200-300 American cities as many across the globe in solidarity with the indigenous Lakota people and all the 300 other tribes that have come together in a unified movement never before seen on American shores.
“We want to all come together and open our eyes and hearts. We need to talk to the corporations and open their eyes and hearts,” Isabella Azizi, a Richmond resident who helped organize the San Francisco protest, told the crowd over a loudspeaker outside City Hall.
The $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL, was approved in July by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but put on hold by the Obama administration in September. The 30-inch diameter connector pipeline would run through North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Iowa to Illinois.
Energy Access Partners, developer of the pipeline with President elect Donald Trump, a $100 million investor and partner, says the project would tap into 7.4 billion barrels of crude oil and make the United States “less dependent on foreign oil.”
But the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sued the Army Corps, saying the project “threatens the Tribe’s environmental and economic well-being and would damage and destroy sites of great historic, religious and cultural significance to the Tribe.”
Private security and local law enforcement officials in North Dakota have been trying to force demonstrators out by deploying pepper spray and “nonlethal rounds” while arresting 142 protesters to date. Violent images and videos of the clashes have spread online and through social media, increasing support and awareness for the issue.
“We want to stop the fossil fuel industry,” Azizi said. “No more taking the oil out of the ground. It wants to stay in Mother Earth.”
San Francisco resident Charlie Ballard, 42, said he visited the Standing Rock reservation in September.
“As a native person, I felt the calling to come protect the water,” Ballard said. “If the pipeline breaks, it could poison the drinking water for millions. People don’t understand how serious this is.”
At Pensacola’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Plaza, close to 100 people joined the movement, according to a local television news station.
“I’m from liberal northeast, so it’s a little different here,” Jon Potrzeba said. “It’s really kind of comforting to see this many people will come out, that know about it.”
People like Potrzeba stood by as speaker after speaker condemned the work of the 1,200-mile pipeline that now runs through four states. Mayan dancers performed a piece with incense to show their support and the crowd sang songs about the environment.
They hoped to send a message to the U.S. government to stop the work and called on local leaders to help get the word out.
A hodgepodge of local acvisits in Mobile, Alabama, some affiliated with the Green Party, marched to the Corps of Engineers headquarters on Saint Joseph Street after gathering in Cathedral Square Plaza. At the rally in the park, local activist and writer David Underhill delivered the main speech to the crowd, which you can watch on video here.
© 2016, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.