Dakota Access Pipeline protesters gather at Capitol steps
Protesters gathered at the Michigan state Capitol in Lansing this afternoon to show solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, sharing their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL.
One of the protest's organizers, second-year law student Emmy Scott, said the gathering came in light of an escalation of violence against DAPL protesters. The protests against the DAPL have made the national spotlight in recent months, with hundreds, including journalists and celebrities, being arrested at the site. Police tactics, including the use of attack dogs and rubber bullets on protesters and reporters alike, have raised human rights concerns.
Participants engaged in Native American song and dance, many holding signs voicing opposition to the pipeline.
Protesters held signs referring to the pipelines as "black snakes" and one of the most common themes of the protest was the slogan “Water is Life."
For some Michiganians, the Dakota pipeline controversy hits home.
“We wanted to stand in solidarity with Standing Rock, but that’s not where we want it to end, because … it’s a movement towards protecting the sacred, in this case its the water," Scott said. “All we want is people to have access to clean water, and I think that’s a message that really resonates in Michigan, (with) the things that have all happened in Flint,”
Midland, Mich. resident Lucinda MacDonald, who has ancestry with several Native tribes, said in coming to the protest she is standing strong for something she believes in.
“We don’t need the poisons, we need water," MacDonald said. "Once all the water is poisoned, we cannot live. Nothing can live, the birds, the animals … we’ve lost major waterways to spills, and they don’t clean them up. And even when they’re cleaned up, it’s still poisoned water. They still can’t drink it, and we’re going to die. We’re going to die from (no) water. It’s coming. That’s why I’m here.”
Rebecca Yoder, a Lansing resident, said she not only hopes the DAPL is rerouted, but that the Line 5 pipeline is removed as well.
“I think that water should be protected, this is a good way to start,” Yoder said.
Scott said clean water is a human right, and the Michigan government needs to be on the right side of history by recognizing that.
“They need to start protecting and looking out for the welfare of people who they represent, and not these corporations," Scott said. "People over profit, we need to start choosing people and think about the seventh generation, seven generations before us and seven generations after us.”