On Tuesday, December 6th, dozens of protesters gathered outside 301 Park Avenue against the rerouting of the Dakota Access Pipeline for the first day of a two-day rally.
The location of the protest was chosen to coincide with the 15th Annual "Wells Fargo Pipeline, MLP, and Utility Symposium," hosted in Waldorf Astoria New York.
Lined up directly against the hotel, protestors chanted “Defund DAPL in the Big Apple!” and “We can’t drink oil, keep it in the soil!” as a man, who was the cofounder of DefundDAPL.org, played guitar to keep the beat.
To avoid being ejected by the surrounding police officers, the protesters did not block the sidewalk to allow bystanders, many of whom were wearing suits, to pass.
“What are we protesting today?” a man sarcastically asked as he passed signs saying “Water is life” and “Have a heart – cancel the pipeline.”
Two bystanders in suits briefly paused to take pictures in front of the protest while making mocking gestures before entering Waldorf Astoria, a hotel whose cost reaches $10,000 a night.
Some were confused by the protest, with one man exclaiming, “But they stopped it already!” He was alluding to Obama and the Army Corps’ refusal to permit the construction of DAPL at Standing Rock pending environmental concerns.
However, protestors like Emma, stated that the purpose of the rally was to protest against the construction of DAPL anywhere, not just at Standing Rock.
“I’m here because even though the government issued energy transfer partners to stop construction, they have said that they are going to still try to complete the pipeline under the Missouri River, and invade the indigenous lands there,” said Emma.
Jessie, another protestor, expressed the same reason for attending the rally. A recent returnee from Standing Rock and someone with a business degree, Jessie stressed the need for people to defund the banks funding the pipeline by closing their accounts.
“Money talks,” she said.
According to DefundDAPL.org, since November 25th, $17,773,269.69 have been withdrawn from banks by those supporting the movement. The site urges these people to instead, place their money in credit unions that do not fund the construction of pipelines and to create their own Defund DAPL events.
“North Dakota is hard to get to…[but] the front line is everywhere,” said Josh Fox, a film director, playwright, environmental activist, and Columbia University alumnus.
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Featured image: Deanna Tran for Fresh U NYU