“Our politicians are turning a blind eye to the protesters and to the native peoples as a new tyranny of oil is taking over our government” – Josh Nodiff ’19
On Friday, September 9, Dragonfly Climate Collective, a local anti-capitalist environmental justice group, organized an action outside of TD Bank on Washington Street to protest the bank’s investment in the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Over 125 people from Wesleyan, Middletown, and greater Connecticut area turned out in response to a call for solidarity actions from the Camp of the Sacred Stones and the Red Warrior Camp, the two camps that have been leading the resistance against the DAPL. The Dragonfly Climate Collective report on the action can be found here.
For those of you who don’t know what DAPL is, the #NoDAPL Solidarity website explains:
The “Dakota Access” Pipeline (DAPL) is a $3.8B, 1,100 mile fracked-oil pipeline currently under construction from the Bakken shale fields of North Dakota to Peoria, Illinois. DAPL is slated to cross Lakota Treaty Territory at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation where it would be laid underneath the Missouri River, the longest river on the continent.
Construction of the DAPL would engender a renewed fracking-frenzy in the Bakken shale region, as well as endanger a source of fresh water for the Standing Rock Sioux and 8 million people living downstream. DAPL would also impact many sites that are sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux and other indigenous nations.
Students from campus organizations including Wesleyan Fossil Fuel Divest and Wesleyan Young Democratic Socialists held signs and led chants in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux. Here is a video from the demonstration:
We spoke with a handful of student activists to hear why they are passionate about this issue:
Josh Nodiff ’19:
The world is weeping for a myriad of injustices today. Indigenous people are having their water poisoned by the fossil fuel corporations in favor of profiteering oil. Our politicians are turning a blind eye to the protesters and to the native peoples as a new tyranny of oil is taking over our government, plutocracy is prevailing, and lives are being poisoned in the name of profit.
At the same time, today is the largest prison strike in the history of the United States, and it is important to know that environmental justice, climate justice, prison abolition, and an end to mass incarceration all go hand in hand in a future we hope to attain within our lifetime so that our children and our grandchildren will be able to live in peace and happiness in a world that will be sustained for generations to come.
Mira Klein ’17:
I think one really important aspect of being out here is that this is responding to a call made by people at Standing Rock right now for solidarity actions that are happening today across the country and internationally. We are responding to people that are on the front lines and really facing the super destructive infrastructure that is violent against native sovereignty. There’s a really important aspect of a response that’s happening, where all these people showed up, which is really cool.
Robin Waterman ’19:
Fresh water should be a basic human right, and this pipeline is endangering those sources of fresh water. This is especially important because it’s on indigenous land, and historically, these people have been oppressed by white conquerors. That’s what we’re standing up to.
During the action, the Department of Justice, Office of the Interior, and Department of the Army issued a joint statement announcing that they would temporarily block further construction on the DAPL, overruling a federal court decision finding against the Standing Rock Sioux and declaring that the pipeline construction could legally continue. The entire statement can be found here.
While this is certainly a good sign, the Camp of the Sacred Stones posted this statement to their Facebook page on Friday evening asking for continued support until the pipeline is blocked for good:
Let’s be cautious about celebrating this. On one hand it seems clear that our pressure is having an effect. Let’s keep it up.
But we have seen time and time again a consistent strategy from the State in these situations: string out the process, break it to us gradually to avoid a big confrontation, present the illusion of careful thoughtful review of the case, tempt us with promises of modest reforms…but then in the end make the same decision that serves money not people. So far this is just talk, not actions, and actions are all we should care about.
Stop the pipeline, and then we’ll celebrate.
We are not leaving until this is over.
UPDATE: The tribe immediately filed an “injunction pending appeal” in US District Court. The company filed a response opposing the appeal, and then the Army Corps filed a response also opposing the appeal. It is almost certain the Judge will not change his decision, this is just a formality. Next step is the tribe will appeal at the US Court of Appeals next week.
As we understand it, there is NOTHING legally binding in the DOJ’s joint statement. Again, not a victory yet.
If you would like to support the Standing Rock Sioux as they protect their land and water, consider donating to the Camp of the Sacred Stones and the Red Warrior Camp.
More photos from the Middletown demonstration on Friday:
Photos and video by wilk.