Austinites take over downtown, protest Dakota oil pipeline

Protests over Dakota Pipeline project

AUSTIN - Protesters stormed downtown Austin Tuesday night, but not against President-elect Donald Trump. Instead, they marched in defiance of the Dakota Pipeline initiative happening in the Great Plains.

For weeks, hundreds of people in North Dakota - many Native Americans in the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe - gathered to protest the construction of a 1, 172- mile underground pipeline they say would run through sacred land.

The Austin protest, which began on the South steps of the Texas State Capitol building, is one of many that spread across the country Tuesday as part of a "Day of Action", according to USA Today.

Austin police said in a release that although the group did not have a permit, they continued to allow them to peacefully protest. APD cites a lengthy history of spontaneous protests in the Capital City and their support of the First Amendment for their decision to cooperate with the protestors. 

 

Josette Laimodiere-Smith, who's a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, says the pipeline runs through her family's property.

"It's hard for all of us native people to see, knowing that it's sacred land and this water is sacred," Laimodiere-Smith said.

The $3.7 billion dollar Pipeline was approved in July by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Energy Transfer Partners-- the company behind the pipeline says the project would tap into 7.4 billion barrels of crude oil and make the United States less dependent on foreign oil. The 30-inch diameter pipeline would run through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois.

Moments after the rally at the Capital, traffic on Congress Avenue stopped as protestors made their way through. Wells Fargo and Chase Bank were the destinations. The group believes both banks gave large amounts of money for the project. Jere Locke, an organizer for the protestors, spoke to KVUE.

"People want to make money. but the money they make will be on the backs of my grandchildren and my sons and that isn't ok. Their greed needs to be held in check.," Locke said.

Energy Transfer Partners officials say that "concerns about the pipeline’s impact on the local water supply are unfounded."

The Department of the Army and Department of the Interior issued a joint statement Monday that they would further delay a decision on an easement of the pipeline and invited the Standing Rock Sioux tribe to discussions.
 

(© 2016 KVUE)


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