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Why I stand with Standing Rock: Op-Ed

Emerson Figueroa, News Editor

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“NoDAPL” is a movement opposing the construction of the planned Dakota Access Pipeline, which would pass through Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Many are concerned that the potential pipeline endangers the Sioux water supply. Protesters also argue that this would be a violation of the treaties the Sioux has with the government. News of the plans spread to environmental activists, and thus ignited the #NoDapl movement, to stand with Standing Rock against the construction of the pipeline.
These protests have been taking place since spring of 2016, and have become increasingly filled with conflict and tension between authorities and protesters. There have been many reports of unnecessary police violence towards protesters, with claims of police harassment and brutality. This brutality was fully demonstrated on November 20, during a standoff on the Backwater Bridge in Morton County. Hundreds of protesters were reportedly blocked off by the police to further their protest peacefully and lawfully. The standoff began in the evening and after two hours, the chaos erupted. Police began to fire their water cannons at the “water protectors” (the nicknames protesters call themselves). Officers claim they were trying to put out fires started by protesters, although other reports claim that the fires were actually started by the concussion grenades fired from the police, and that the water protectors themselves were trying to put the fires out. Throughout this whole conflict there have been over 400 people arrested and over 300 injured. Reports of police abuse abound. Water cannons were fired at freezing temperatures causing severe hypothermia, rubber bullets, concussion grenades along, and tear gas were shot directly into crowds of peaceful protesters, causing a woman’s arm to be torn almost completely apart. Another woman was hit with a rubber bullet in her eye, causing her permanent loss of vision in that eye.
As 2,000 veterans joined the water protectors on December 4, 2016, major political pressure piled onto the White House to make a decision on the pipeline. The Army Corps of Engineers would go on to deny a permit for the construction of a key section of the pipeline, granting a major victory for the protestors. Recent events, however, have proven this to have been a temporary success. Although the pipeline was denied access under Obama’s presidency, it has regained access under Trump’s presidency, with his
recent executive orders giving authorization to Energy Transfer Partners to resume their building of the pipeline. Trump’s reasoned that the order would create many jobs, and he is right, but only in the short-term. When the pipeline is completed those new jobs disappear and the use of pipeline itself actually eliminates jobs from the truck drivers who used to transport the oil safely.
Rather than investing in the pipeline, time and effort could be put into seeking new energy that is interchangeable and renewable, unlike oil. Our new government looks to help these big companies get their way instead. Unfortunately, it is once again time to stand with Standing Rock and fight the powers that look to ignore the people’s voices.

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Why I stand with Standing Rock: Op-Ed