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1 Million People 'Check In' on Facebook to Support Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters

Energy

By now, you might have heard that "checking in" at Standing Rock, North Dakota, on Facebook is not throwing off cops who are using the platform to target Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protesters on the front lines. However, the million-plus Facebook users who have falsely updated their statuses are actually doing something important: It's bringing the protest to the mainstream.

On Monday, Oct. 31, a Facebook user posted a claim that the Morton County sheriff's department was using the social media platform to locate protestors.

"Water Protecters are calling on EVERYONE to check-in at Standing Rock, ND to overwhelm and confuse them," it read.

As the Guardian reported, the post quickly went viral. The number of check-ins at the Standing Rock reservation page ballooned from 140,000 to more than 870,000 by that afternoon.

The Sacred Stone Camp told Snopes they are not behind the tactic but pointed out it was a "great way to express solidarity" with the pipeline protest.

Meanwhile, the Morton County Sheriff's Department stated in a Facebook post it "is not and does not follow Facebook check-ins for the protest camp or any location. This claim/rumor is absolutely false."

Native American communities and their supporters have been battling the construction of the controversial $3.7 billion, 1,168-mile pipeline since April. The proposed DAPL will transfer up to 570,00 barrels of crude oil per day from the Bakken oilfield in North Dakota to a refinery near Chicago, crossing the Missouri River less than a mile away from the Standing Rock Reservation.

The people of Standing Rock, often called Sioux, warn that a potential spill into the river would threaten their drinking water, desecrate sacred sites and risk the health of their reservation.

Thanks to social media, the protest is entering the national conversation. So how else can you help the protestors on the front lines? There are a number of ways you can support the campaign:

  • The Sacred Stone Camp has an official GoFundMe account and an Amazon WishList. You can also physically mail checks, cash or supplies to Sacred Stone Camp, P.O. Box 1011, Fort Yates, ND 58538 or 202 Main Street Fort Yates, ND 58538.
  • You can phone local leaders and other decision makers. North Dakota governor Jack Dalrymple's phone number is 701-328-2200. Call the Army Corps of Engineers and demand them to reverse the permit at 202-761-5903.
  • And here are some numbers at Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline. Executive vice president Lee Hanse, 210-403-6455. Vice president Glenn Emery, 210-403-6762. Lead analyst Michael (Cliff) Waters, 713-989-2404.

Over the past several months, the peaceful protest against the DAPL has at times turned violent, with officers using mace and unleashing dogs. Hundreds of arrests have been made.

The Guardian reported that the United Nations advisory forum for indigenous issues is now investigating claims that North Dakota law enforcement has used excessive force, unlawful arrests and mistreated the protesters in jail.

Roberto Borrero, a representative of the International Indian Treaty Council who is assisting the UN forum told the Guardian that the activists' stories are "very shocking."

"When you look at what the international standards are for the treatment of people, and you are in a place like the United States, it's really astounding to hear some of this testimony," he said.

According to the Guardian, "jailed protesters said it seemed clear that police weren't prepared to handle hundreds of people at once in their local correctional facilities. A day after their release, many still had numbers and charges written on their arms in marker—which advocates said was an unusual and dehumanizing way for police to track inmates—and some were temporarily kept in cages that they said felt like 'dog kennels.'"

Police have accused the activists of being overly aggressive in their demonstrations and have charged many protesters with criminal trespassing.

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As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.


Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.

AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.

"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."


The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.

"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.

As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."

"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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