American Indians and environmental activists took to the streets of Washington, D.C., to protest President Donald Trump’s decision to move forward with the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Hundreds of protesters descended on D.C. Friday, starting their march outside the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers headquarters and ending it outside the White House. Activists said the pipeline violated an 1851 treaty with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and would contaminate tribal water sources.
One activist standing outside a school bus said he and others “came straight from Standing Rock” after being evicted from protest camps on the reservation by North Dakota and tribal officials.
“We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters from Standing Rock,” the activist said. “We stand in solidarity because of treaty rights because once they are done with theirs they’re going to come after ours.”
Protesters had been camping out near the Dakota Access Pipeline route for months, often getting into clashes with police that sent people on both sides to the hospital. Activists from across the country converged to keep the pipeline from going under Lake Oahe, which the Standing Rock Sioux tribe says is sacred land.
Protesters finally left in late February, but not before burning down teepees, abandoning vehicles and leaving behind nearly 500 dumpsters worth of trash.
Hazmat crews entered the Cannon Ball camp to handle all the human waste and chemicals left behind. Sanitation crews were also looking for dead bodies, and other crews found abandoned puppies left out in the frigid weather.
GOP North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum ordered the protesters’ campsites be cleaned up to avoid an “environmental disaster” during the spring when flooding could sweep trash and human waste through drinking water sources — the very thing protesters said the pipeline would do.
Protesters, however, have relocated and promised to carry the fight to other pipeline projects. Many even argued this is also about getting the U.S. off fossil fuels, and keeping oil in the ground.
“We are a country that is dependent on oil, we have to take a look at alternative energy,” Ron His Horse Is Thunder, former Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “This is a start.”
Trump signed an executive memorandum shortly after taking office, asking the Corps to “review and approve” the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Corps initially approved the project in July 2016, but reversed themselves in November.
The reversal came after President Barack Obama said in November the Corps was looking for a way to reroute the pipeline. Federal agencies halted the pipeline from being completed in September.
Despite the delays, the Dakota Access Pipeline is nearly complete, according to Energy Transfer Partners — the company building the pipeline. The company is in the process of completing the leg of the project that’s around 100 feet below Lake Oahe.