Thousands Take to the Streets Across the Country to Oppose the Dakota Access and Keystone Pipelines
Real News speaks to indigenous leaders and environmentalists who gathered in Washington, DC to oppose Trump’s decision to revive two massive pipelines
DAVID DOUGHERTY: On Tuesday, January 24th thousands of demonstrators took to the streets across the United States to protest President Donald Trump’s signing of a series of Executive Memorandums, seeking to resume and advance the construction of the previously suspended Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipeline projects.
In Washington, D.C., demonstrators gathered at sunset before the White House, in the shadow of the security gates and crowd stands at the Presidential Inauguration that took place just days earlier.
CROWD: (chanting) City by city, block by block, we stand with Standing Rock!
DAVID DOUGHERTY: I’m David Dougherty with The Real News Network. We’re here in Washington, D.C., in front of the White House where hundreds of demonstrators have gathered to protest the Executive Pipeline Orders signed by President Donald Trump this morning. Let’s hear from some of the voices on the ground.
JADE BEGAY: What happened today is an attack on our communities. It’s an attack on our home and so we’re here. We’re showing up at his home, at Trump’s home to say, “We’re going to come. We’re going to continue to show up at your space, in your spaces, and share our message and demand that you see us, that you hear us.”
DAVID DOUGHERTY: Months of sustained protests in what became the largest mobilization of indigenous North Americans in over a century resulted in the Dakota Access Pipeline project being temporarily halted by the administration of former President Barack Obama, who also blocked the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline. President Trump’s memorandums are expected to reverse those decisions and give a green light to resume the construction of both projects.
RAUL GRIJALVA: It represents many things. It represents a level of abuse and it represents a renewal by indigenous people in this country to say, “We’re standing up for ourselves. We want to protect what’s ours. We want to protect the generations to come. And we want to protect our water and the resources that have made us who we are.”
ERYN WISE: I told President Obama that I would keep coming back for him, right? I told him that until he stood for the youth that he promised life to, that I would keep coming back. And now I’m here to make that same promise to Donald Trump.
DAVID DOUGHERTY: Eryn Wise of the International Indigenous Youth Council says she is resisting President Trump’s Memorandums and the pipeline projects because of what she describes as a continuation of centuries of abuse of Indigenous people by the United States government.
ERYN WISE: I think that, you know, him signing the Executive Orders for Keystone XL and for Dakota Access is a continuation of genocide because he is currently still trying to silence indigenous peoples, right? If he poisons our water, our children are sick, our people are sick. They can’t withstand, right? I mean, these pipelines are the smallpox blankets that the United States gave to us, right? We’ve only been allowed so much. We’ve only been allowed to live so long.
DAVID DOUGHERTY: Demonstrators like Sarah Prados worried about the impacts of the projects on both indigenous communities and the environment in the United States.
SARAH PRADOS: I am terrified that this is going to escalate to a genocide of the Native American people. We’ve seen the devastation of multiple pipelines in the last few months and it’s mortifying. They’re destroying our rivers and our ecosystems. They’re killing our animals. We need to stand up and say something, or the government and Trump is going to just absolutely decimate our country.
DAVID DOUGHERTY: Protests were reported in dozens of cities across the United States as a multitude of social movements have vowed to step up sustained opposition to key aspects of President Trump’s political project. Reporting from Washington, D.C., I’m David Dougherty with The Real News Network.