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“Divest LA” Protest against DAPL

Protestors put their fists in the air in solidarity with standing rock and Defunding the Dakota Access Pipeline in Downtown Los Angles, California., on Friday, March 10 2017. The Demonstrators are calling on the City of Los Angeles to cut financial ties with Wells Fargo because the bank is helping fund finance the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. (Matthew Martin)

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On Friday March 10 2017, hundreds of local activists took to the streets of Downtown Los Angeles to protest against against the newly-approved Dakota Access Pipeline. The event was hosted by Divest LA, whose goal was to pressure city officials into divesting from Wells Fargo, one of the biggest banks funding the highly-controversial project.

The protest began at 11:00 AM at Pershing Square and continued through the Financial and Arts districts before stopping at City Hall, where the activists delivered their loud, defiant, and unyielding call to action.

One Native American activist was, Courage, a member of Divest LA. Having participated in the original protest against troops at Standing Rock, Courage was now leading the march to City Hall with fellow Native American activists.

“[The movement has] really evolved from an environmental, socio-economic issue to one about gross human rights violations. Having seen [them] myself, how the National Guard and the Morton County police have treated the unarmed, peaceful protectors at Standing Rock,” Courage said. “Now it is up to us, up to the people of the city of LA and other cities to divest from the funding of this pipeline.”

Another Native Activist, Fixico, told us: “We are not protestors, we are protectors. We want our home Turtle Island [America] to be here and to have the necessities for our future generations.”

Fixico spent five months at Standing Rock, and allegedly attempted to save the life of one Elder Standing Horse, who died after a violent encounter with troops. “He was hit with a concussion grenade in his chest. They were aiming for our faces. My sister lost her eye. They were very violent towards us because they don’t want us to stand up. That’s our right! That’s our human right to be able stand up and say ‘stop, look at what you’re doing!’" he said.

Following the raids at Standing Rock, Fixico came to LA three months ago to keep up the fight against DAPL. “They’re bulldozing and making pipelines all over Turtle Island, all over the United States. Our goal, what we want and what we envision is to move forward with other ways to retain and regain energy,” Fixico said.

After nearly an hour, the marching crowd made a brief stop in the Arts District to form a prayer circle. Several onlookers peered down from their penthouse balconies while The Native American members of the group performed a traditional prayer ceremony. With that, the march continued to the steps of City Hall, where a line of guest speakers delivered their message of solidarity to the crowd.

As the activist leaders spoke, one ally chose to watch from the sidelines. While the crowd of protesters cheered and shouted, Tony Goodman, a Special Forces veteran, stood by to safeguard the protest.

Being half-Native himself, Goodman felt a personal obligation to fight against DAPL. “For weeks before I left I had dreams of being in Standing Rock,” he said. Goodman left for North Dakota before most other veterans arrived.

“When I got out, I already knew about all the corruption in our military itself. Seeing what was going on I already knew I was gonna be facing that when I got there,” explained Goodman. "Most of them didn’t wanna be there. Most of them cried behind their own riot shields. We had children up on the frontline talking to them while they held up their riot shields [with] tears coming down their eyes. There’s a lot of people in the military that know what they’re doing isn’t right, but they signed that contract…”

Although the now-infamous "No DAPL" camp at Standing Rock lies deserted, the fight for indigenous rights lives on for a young generation of "water protectors."

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