Op Ed: Students stand for Standing Rock
By BRADLEY VEERHOFF
UMW Students Demonstrate with Members of the Fredericksburg Community For Standing Rock Solidarity at Virginia Army Navy National Guard and Recruiting and Retention Center.
Beginning at 10:15 in the morning, roughly 25 Fredericksburg community members and students demonstrated to show their solidarity with the Ochethi Sakowin Tribe, and against the Dakota Access oil pipeline. The gathering was part of a cross-country Day of Action with at least 32 different organizations, including environmental and indigenous rights groups Indigenous Environmental Action Network, Honor the Earth, and 350.org, as well as groups with the United Church of Christ, Veterans’ associations and National Nurses United.
The Ochethi Sakowin, sometimes called the Standing Rock Sioux are resisting construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline as it is being built on land which is a part of the Standing Rock Reservation, and because any construction of the pipeline would impact water sources that the tribe relies on. There is also a religious component to the Water Protectors’ struggle: the land and water they defend is spiritually significant to the tribe.
Community members gathered at the Retention Center in protest of the Army Corps of Engineers involvement with the pipeline. In October, the Corps issued permits to Dakota Access, LLC., a subsidiary of the Energy Transfer Partners corporation. The ETP’s permits were fast- tracked by the Corps – a procedure that circumvents the ordinary legal process of approval.
In October, President Barack Obama had also raised issue with the pipeline, calling a temporary freeze on its construction. On Election Day, construction began again, despite the freeze and President’s concerns with the pipeline’s construction, as well as ongoing court cases against the organizations responsible for violating the National Historic Preservation Act and attacks on tribe members by the private security firm G4S involving dogs, rubber bullets and tear gas.
The Fredericksburg residents voiced their concerns against the attacks on the Water Protectors, with chants and calls for an end to the violence committed against the tribe. They called for the revocation of permits by the Corps, holding that the pipeline’s construction was illegal, immoral, dangerous and ecologically unsustainable.
They stood in solidarity with the Water Protectors, along with environmental organizations and police officers who had resigned in protest of the pipeline after tribe members were attacked in the middle of a prayer and put in cages. They used slogans associated with the movement such as “#noDAPL” and “Water is Life.”