Trump Order Gives Green Light to Dakota Access Pipeline—Tramples on Native American Rights and People’s Struggle
January 24, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
After Trump ordered the rapid completion of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines on January 24, protests erupted that same night. Over 1,000 in Washington, DC, over 500 in NYC. Protests took place in San Francisco and Nebraska, and other places. Here are some photos and videos of these events.
Nebraska Protest Against the KeystoneXL Pipeline
Protests Against the Dakota Access Pipeline
In early December, in the face of the months-long determined struggle of the people from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and tens of thousands who had come to support them, the U.S. government temporarily backed off from giving final approval to the completion of the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline (DAPL). DAPL poses a huge threat to the water that the Standing Rock Sioux depend on and violates the treaty rights of the tribe, as well as contributing significantly to the climate change that is racing toward global catastrophe.
Less than two months later, there is a fascist regime in place in Washington, DC. It’s still the same capitalist-imperialist system—but those in charge of the government have new rules, new priorities, new ways of doing things. On the fourth day of this regime, Trump signed an executive order reversing the earlier U.S. action and giving the green light for the DAPL to be completed. At the same time, Trump signed an order clearing the way for the resumption of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, reversing the decision Obama made in the face of massive protests (see “Trump Revives Keystone XL Pipeline-an Environmental Disaster”).
Trump’s order directs the Army (whose Corps of Engineers oversees the construction of pipelines over federal land) to “review and approve in an expedited manner...requests for approvals to construct and operate the DAPL.” Note the phrase “expedited manner.” Trump and his cabal are not planning for some long, drawn-out process through the government bureaucracy.
With this order, Trump made clear his regime’s intention to crudely trample on Native American rights and rip up any impediments to the capitalist-imperialists’ mad drive for profits at the cost of environmental disaster.
Increased Pig Brutality at Standing Rock
When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced in December that it was withholding, for the time being, approval for the DAPL to cross a reservoir it controls on the Missouri River, the corporate officials behind DAPL said they were confident that Trump would give the OK.
After the temporary halt, most of the tens of thousands left the encampments at Standing Rock, but several hundred people have continued to stay and stand guard against moves to resume pipeline construction. There has been continuing repression by the police forces against these protesters, which ratcheted up in recent weeks.
On January 18, the guardian.com reported: “First hand accounts from Native Americans fighting the Dakota Access pipeline...along with live footage from the clashes on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, suggest that police in riot gear deployed pepper spray, tear gas and other ‘less than lethal’ weapons against unarmed people, in some cases leading to serious injuries. Some fear that the harsh police tactics at two demonstrations—which activists insist were peaceful—are a sign that law enforcement may be gearing up to clamp down on the massive protests that are likely to emerge if Trump, as expected, moves to approve the oil pipeline.”
These increased attacks just prior to Trump’s inauguration were ominous. The Trump regime has already made clear in just the first few days that cops and other law enforcement are going to be fully unleashed to brutalize and terrorize the people. (See “Trump Regime to Cops Everywhere: ‘Take Off the Gloves!’“) The local police, sheriffs, state police and others who have been deployed against the Standing Rock protests have no doubt gotten Trump’s message.
The Just Struggle at Standing Rock
The DAPL is a 1,200-mile monstrosity, beginning where oil is extracted through environmentally devastating fracking in northern North Dakota near the Canadian border. On completion, DAPL will pump 500,000 more barrels of oil a day into the environment, escalating the global climate change crisis. In length and in the volume of oil capacity, DAPL is on the same scale as the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline’s route crosses the Missouri River very close to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The river is the main source of water for the people of Standing Rock—as well as millions of others in the region. As the Standing Rock tribe and others have pointed out, these oil pipelines have leaks all the time. So DAPL poses a deadly threat to the water—and to the health and lives—of the whole tribe and many others. And it tramples on burial grounds that the Standing Rock Sioux consider sacred and important to their cultural heritage.
Beginning early last year with a small core of people from the reservation, the resistance at Standing Rock against DAPL grew to include hundreds of Native Americans from all over the U.S. and thousands of others, including celebrities, U.S. military veterans, environmental activists, and others—people from all walks of life. They defied hundreds of arrests and beatings, mace, rubber bullets, and brutal harassment by the various police forces and pipeline company mercenaries. The eyes of the whole world were on this just and righteous struggle, which put a spotlight on the continuing modern-day genocide of indigenous people and the predatory nature of the oil-addicted capitalist-imperialist system.
All this had a lot to do with why Obama was forced to back down for the time being on DAPL. As for Trump, delivering a big “fuck you” to the Native American fighters and tens of thousands others who stood their ground as well as the millions in the U.S. and around the world who supported them—and threatening all political protest and critical thinking—is a part of why he signed the executive order.
No Trump, No DAPL, No Fascist USA
Within hours of Trump’s signing of the executive order giving a green light to DAPL, there were over 1,000 protesters at the White House and many more in different cities across the U.S. Resisters at the Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock put out a call for people “to stand up where they are, mass civil disobedience as a showing of solidarity for Standing Rock.”
Trump’s executive order on DAPL is part of the long ugly history of America: The U.S. government has broken every treaty it has ever made with the Native American tribes. The only promise they ever kept was when they vowed to take the land of the Native peoples—and they took it. At the same time, his action is part of something new and extremely dangerous, for all of humanity: the rise of fascist rule in America. The executive order and any further actions by the government against the resisters of Standing Rock must be met with broad, determined, and urgent resistance—as part of the fight to drive the illegitimate fascist regime out.
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