39 Arrested Protesting U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for Approving Dakota Access Pipeline and Spectra’s AIM Pipeline
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New York, NY – On Tuesday, 2,000 New Yorkers rallied in solidarity with the Water Protectors at Standing Rock, gathering at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan and rallying at the office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This action was part of a national day of action called by indigenous leaders to take the streets one week after the election. People from all over the Northeast gathered in Foley Square to demand that President Obama’s Army Corps of Engineers and the incoming administration stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. 39 people were arrested in an act of peaceful civil disobedience, confronting the Army Corps by bearing witness in the streets until being removed by police – see links to further photo and video HERE.
Crystal Migwans of the Anishinaabe Nation was the MC for the event. “The election of last week has made visible to the rest of the world the white supremacist forces of settler colonialism that Indigenous people and people of color have been fighting all along. It is now more important than ever to stand with the water protectors at Standing Rock; to turn our attention to the heart of the continent rather than turning away in resignation. The struggles for land, water, and lives there, at what seemed like a distant corner of the world before, should be forefront in all our minds now.”
Pastor Doug Cunningham of New Day Church in the Bronx was also among the speakers. “The unity and courage of the Lakota and other tribes at Standing Rock is deeply inspiring. It is our honor to stand with them in protecting the earth and their rights as indigenous people in this country.”
For months, Indigenous people have set up prayer camps along the pipeline route in North Dakota in a historic feat of sustained nonviolent resistance. Over the past few weeks, these peaceful water protectors have been brutally attacked by militarized law enforcement as they defend their land and water. If completed, the pipeline would run under the Missouri River.
In a letter delivered earlier in the day, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War pointed out that this would violate the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie Treaties with The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) as well as contradict the stated mission of the USACE, which outlines “environmental sustainability as a guiding principle.” The letter from IVAW (link HERE) was received by Larry Mazola of the North Atlantic Division, Army Corps of Engineers, United States Department of the Army, who responded: “You’ve made yourself heard. The corps of engineers is re-looking at this. So just by your stand, we’re going to go back and take a look and make sure we’re doing the right things. And that is directly a result of what you guys are all doing.”
Courtney WIlliams, a Peekskill resident who lives in the path of Spectra Energy’s AIM Pipeline, also spoke at the rally. “The US Army Corps has for too long ignored the impacts these pipeline projects have on communities like those at Standing Rock and here in NY. They have ignored the environmental impacts of risking our rivers and our water for fossil fuel infrastructure. We cannot stand for it. We will not stand for it.” Williams spoke on behalf of Resist Spectra, a group of residents and advocates organized against the AIM Pipeline, a high-pressure, 42-inch diameter fracked gas pipeline that would run under the Hudson River 105 feet from critical safety facilities at Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant.
Nicole Goodwin, an Army Veteran who served in Iraq, also spoke at the rally. “Today, Iraq Veterans Against the War stood in solidarity with Standing Rock and delivered a letter that our members wrote to the Army Corps of Engineers telling them to stand down. It is especially important for veterans and service members to stand with Standing Rock because we have the responsibility to rectify the US military’s history of occupation. We went to the Army Corps today to tell them to deny permits for DAPL, to tell them that we are watching their moves, and that the core values of this country are in danger unless they act.”
The message is clear: Water and community must come before corporate profits. That is true at Standing Rock—where Native people defending their land and water are being violently repressed by military forces so that oil companies may profit—and here in New York, where 20 million people have been put at risk by Spectra’s AIM pipeline. The people are calling on President Obama to do the right thing in the remaining days of his administration and stop these pipelines once and for all.
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