ALBANY STANDS WITH STANDING ROCK
People took to the streets of downtown Albany last Tuesday to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.
The protest began under The Egg, a performance arts venue located on the Empire State Plaza Concourse, where protesters handed out flyers and rallied together before they marched with their signs held high. The protest began on Nov. 22 at 11:30 a.m. and ended shortly after 2:00 p.m.
All together there were roughly 200 protestors of all races and ages who came out to show their solidarity with the Sioux Tribe and the “protectors” of Standing Rock. A group of children walked through the basement holding a banner and chanting, “we can’t drink water,” which was echoed by their fellow protesters.
The protestors were escorted from The Egg to TD Bank, who has been helping to fund the pipeline’s construction, by police officers on horseback. In the pouring rain, protesters continued to chant and march until they reached the front doors of the bank.
A few signs from the protest included, “Honor all treaties,” “People over profit,” and “Water is life.” Others held signs with facts regarding previous pipeline accidents and signs in opposition to fracking. Representatives from the group went into the bank and informed the bank as to why they were protesting.
The protesters chanted, “Water is Life” and “TD bank, for you to do your best, you must learn how to divest.”
“We are really ecstatic to see the different age ranges at this rally,” said University at Albany student Ashley Barcia. “It just shows that this isn’t a generational thing. This is something that affects all people.”
One UAlbany student found out about the issue via social media.
“What the oil company is doing is wrong. This is a human right; this is our water,” said Kirsten LaMonica.
The leaders and imitators of the protest, PAUSE, called the Obama administration’s comment line, to which the protesters chanted in unison, “No Dakota Access Pipeline,” three times, followed by, “We stand with Standing Rock.”
One protester closed her bank account at TD bank with the support of her fellow protestors. As she walked into the bank she was met with cheers and applause.
According to CNN, the pipeline is expected to cross through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois, extending about 1,172 miles. The pipeline would start at the Bakken Formation in North Dakota, which is a massive oil deposit, and transport crude oil through the other three states.
The North Dakota Access Pipeline is expected to transport upwards of 470,000 barrels of crude oil every day. Initially the pipeline was supposed to cut through Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota. After complaints from the citizens of Bismarck, ironically, for fear of it contaminating their water supply, the pipeline was rerouted.
This reroute has caused the pipeline to cut through Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s territory. The pipeline will also be constructed under the Missouri River, which is the Sioux Tribe’s main water source. The construction was approved by the US Army Corps of Engineers and has since been met by constant protests. Environmentalists and human rights activists across the nation are now joining in the protest and standing with Standing Rock.
According to the Energy Transfer’s website, “underground pipelines are the safest mode of transporting crude oil.” They argue that one positive aspect of the construction of the pipeline is that it would reduce the United States’ dependency on foreign oil. The Dakota Access Pipeline would also decrease the need to transport crude oil by train, thus freeing trains for transportation of other materials.
The Sioux Tribe of Standing Rock says the pipeline will destroy their sacred burial sites. Since the pipeline is cutting under the Missouri River, which is the tribe’s main water source, if the pipeline should be compromised, their water would be directly affected. According to the Chicago Tribune, the number of annual pipeline accidents has increased by about 60 percent. This is one of the tribe’s greatest fears.
Protesters felt that the risk of a leak in the pipeline outweighs the potential benefits of the pipeline.
This protest was one of many that day. Nov. 15 was declared the day of action for supporters of the protestors and tribes at Standing Rock with protests occurring in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, and Portland.
The issue has previously been recognized by well-known names like Leonardo DiCaprio, Shailene Woodley, Mark Ruffalo, and Sen. Bernie Sanders. The night of the Dakota Access Pipeline Day of Action,
Sanders delivered a speech in Washington, D.C. calling for the end of construction on the pipeline.
He later took to Twitter saying, “I am honored to be with a worldwide community that are demanding the Dakota Access Pipeline not be built. #NoDapl.”
The Albany protest came to an end with the performance of a water ceremony, the reading of a poem written by a protester, as well as the reading of an ancient Native American prophecy. Protests are expected to continue until construction on the pipeline is completely shut down.