Protesters Lock Their Bodies to Machines to Stop Dakota Access Pipeline

As a temporary restraining order that halts construction on part of the Dakota Access Pipeline was issued Tuesday, about 100 people again shut down construction on another part of the pipeline by obstructing equipment. Some of them locked themselves to the heavy machinery. Native Americans from across the U.S. and Canada continue to arrive at the resistance camps.

We speak with Tara Houska, national campaigns director for Honor the Earth.

Here's the transcript of the interview:

Juan González: As the ruling was issued in Washington, DC, about 100 land defenders shut down construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline by obstructing equipment. Some of them locked themselves to workers' heavy machinery. We go now to North Dakota to get reaction on the lawsuit and on the actions on the ground.

Amy Goodman: Tara Houska is with us. She's national campaigns director for Honor the Earth.

Tara, welcome to Democracy Now! Can you talk about the reaction on the ground to the court decision? And then, what exactly happened in that protest yesterday?

Tara Houska: It was really disappointing. You know, there—we were really hoping that the judge would see that there was this filing on Friday that detailed all these different sacred sites that were in the pipeline's path and then the company went out on Saturday and destroyed those sites. It was very clearly a situation in which a temporary restraining order to actually stop that construction and prevent such violent altercations from occurring—I mean, the security company actually turned dogs on Native American people protecting sacred sites. It's incredibly disappointing to see that the court system did not continue to protect our interests and stop this from happening, while we're waiting to see what this injunction is ruled upon.

"I am here to protect the water for the children ... and to protect our ways of life," said Iyuskin American Horse of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, who was arrested Aug. 31.Earthjustice / Twitter

Juan González: And, Tara, your reaction to the response of Native Americans around the country who have now flocked to the Dakota area to participate in these protests?

Tara Houska: I mean, I think, you know, folks are still pouring in. The camp grows every single day, that, you know, people know they're coming from around the country to defend this river and also to take a stand for indigenous rights. We've seen some pretty serious human rights violations as this process has gone on. The state of North Dakota took the water supplies from the camp. They took medical supplies. They have put up a blockade, preventing—you know, making it very, very difficult to actually get into the reservation. This is occurring, and no one's really covering that issue, and no one is really seeming to care. And, you know, indigenous people all know that this is going on. I mean, while those dogs were—those private security dogs protecting an easement, while that was happening, there were North Dakota police standing there, not doing anything. We're citizens, too, just like everyone else. And so, this has become a moment in history in which we're standing up for the environment, for our children, for the river, for the drinking water and also just—and generally for the upholding of treaty rights and human rights.

Amy Goodman: Now, we wanted to ask about this protest. One of those who participated in the protest, who locked down, was Victor Puertas. We saw him on Saturday. We interviewed him because one of the dogs bit him on his arm and we showed that image. For people to see the whole attack on Saturday, you can go online at democracynow.org. But his arm clearly showed bite marks. Can you talk about exactly what they did yesterday?

Tara Houska: Yeah. Yesterday, there was a direct action, a nonviolent direct action, in which, you know, the location of construction was discovered. And, you know, about a hundred people just hopped in their cars and went over there and locked onto the equipment to prevent active construction from occurring. I think it's worth noting that the company voluntarily, you know, said that they would cease construction up until the point of the injunction. That clearly has not happened. Active construction has still been occurring throughout this entire process. And the land defenders here know that. They know that we know that, that this is obviously not being upheld and not being fully acknowledged. And yesterday, we went on site and, you know, there were folks that were willing to lock themselves to machines to stop this construction and prevent the pipeline from going in.

Amy Goodman: I wanted to play a clip of Victor Puertas from Saturday, the different action, right after he was attacked.

Victor Puertas: Look at this. A dog—

Protestor: Dog bit him right now.

Victor Puertas: Throwed the dog on me. This [bleep] throwed the dog on me. Look at this. Look at this. You throwed the dog on me. No, you did it on purpose, man.

Amy Goodman: Let me see. Let me see.

Victor Puertas: Over there, with that dog. I was like walking. Throwed the dog on me and straight, even without any warning. You know? Look at this. Look at this.

Amy Goodman: That dog bit you?

Victor Puertas: Yeah, the dog did it, you know? Look at this. It's there. It's all bleeding.

Amy Goodman: So, that's Victor Puertas with the dog bite on his arm and he, with Jules [Richards], were two who locked down.

Juan González: Tara, what's been the—what was the response yesterday of the security guards and the company to your protest? Was it markedly different from Saturday?

Tara Houska: It was markedly different. The police officers, for one, actually came on site initially, kind of stood around and took pictures of our—took pictures of people's faces and generally didn't really do much and then ended up actually leaving. I think there's a realization that the use of dogs on Native Americans protecting their treaty lands and their sacred sites is actually a really bad PR move, that they know that the world is watching as these gross violations of human rights are occurring. And so, there was a very big sense of "we're going to back off." And they really did not engage at all yesterday.

Show Comments ()
Solar shade canopies. University of Hawaii

This College Could Become the First 100% Renewable Campus in U.S.

As a growing number of U.S. cities make pledges towards 100 percent renewables, it's easy to forget that the entire state of Hawaii set this important benchmark three years ago when it mandated that all of its electricity must come from renewable sources no later than 2045.

To help the Aloha State meet this ambitious commitment, in 2015, the University of Hawaii (UH) and the Hawaiian Legislature set a collective goal for the university system to be "net-zero" by Jan. 1, 2035, which means the total amount of energy consumed is equal to the amount of renewable energy created.

Keep reading... Show less

Silver Nanoparticles in Clothing Wash Out, May Be Toxic

By Sukalyan Sengupta and Tabish Nawaz

Humans have known since ancient times that silver kills or stops the growth of many microorganisms. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, is said to have used silver preparations for treating ulcers and healing wounds. Until the introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s, colloidal silver (tiny particles suspended in a liquid) was a mainstay for treating burns, infected wounds and ulcers. Silver is still used today in wound dressings, in creams and as a coating on medical devices.

Keep reading... Show less
4.4 million premature air pollution deaths could be avoided in Kolkata if emissions are reduced swiftly this century. M M / CC BY-SA 2.0

Study Finds Timely Emissions Reductions Could Prevent 153 Million Air Pollution Deaths This Century

One of the roadblocks to swift action on climate change is the human brain's tendency to focus on threats and stimuli that are an obvious and noticeable part of their everyday lives, rather than an abstract and future problem, as Amit Dhir explained in The Decision Lab.

Now, a study published in Nature Climate Change Monday shows that acting quickly to curb greenhouse gas emissions would also reduce the air pollution that is already a major urban killer, thereby saving millions of lives within the next 40 years.

Keep reading... Show less
Lands threatened by BLM's March 2018 sale include Hatch Point. Neal Clark / SUWA

Trump Administration Sells Oil and Gas Leases Near Utah National Monuments

The Interior Department on Tuesday is auctioning off 32 parcels of public lands in southeastern Utah for oil and gas development.

The Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) lease sale includes more than 51,000 acres of land near Bears Ears—the national monument significantly scaled back by the Trump administration last year—as well as the Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients monuments.

Keep reading... Show less
Katharine Hayhoe talks climate communication hacks at the Natural Products Expo West Convention. Climate Collaborative

Katharine Hayhoe Reveals Surprising Ways to Talk About Climate Change

By Katie O'Reilly

Katharine Hayhoe isn't your typical atmospheric scientist. Throughout her career, the evangelical Christian and daughter of missionaries has had to convince many (including her pastor husband) that science and religion need not be at odds when it comes to climate change. Hayhoe, who directs Texas Tech's University's Climate Science Center, is CEO of ATMOS Research, a scientific consulting company, and produces the PBS Kids' web series Global Weirding, rose to national prominence in early 2012 after then-presidential candidate Newt Gingrich dropped her chapter from a book he was editing about the environment. The reason? Hayhoe's arguments affirmed that climate change was no liberal hoax. The Toronto native attracted the fury of Rush Limbaugh, who encouraged his listeners to harass her.

Keep reading... Show less
Rising Tide NA / Twitter

Kinder Morgan Pipeline Protest Grows: Arrests Include a Greenpeace Founder, Juno-Nominated Grandfather

By Andy Rowell

Just because you get older, it doesn't mean you cannot stop taking action for what you believe in. And Monday was a case in point. Two seventy-year-olds, still putting their bodies on the line for environmental justice and indigenous rights.

Early Monday morning, the first seventy-year-old, a grandfather of two, and former nominee for Canada's Juno musical award, slipped into Kinder Morgan's compound at one of its sites for the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline and scaled a tree and then erected a mid-air platform with a hammock up in the air.

Keep reading... Show less

The Grapes of Trash

By Marlene Cimons

German monk and theologian Martin Luther probably said it best: "Beer is made by men, wine by God." It's true—the world loves its wine. Americans, in fact, downed close to a billion gallons of it in 2016. But winemakers create a lot of waste when they produce all that vino, most of it in seeds, stalks and skins.

Keep reading... Show less

Why Mike Pompeo Could Be Even Worse for the Environment Than Rex Tillerson

By Kelle Louaillier

As Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson was one of the most blatant revolving-door cases in the Trump administration and a clear sign that Trump's government was of, by and for the fossil fuel industry. But make no mistake: Mike Pompeo could be far worse.

Keep reading... Show less


The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!