About 750 people gathered in Westlake Park Tuesday night in protest of President Donald Trump’s action to revive construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, which had stalled last year.
Opposition to the oil pipeline has grown over the past year, led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which says the plan encroaches onto land considered sacred and potentially threatens the tribe’s water supply.
The Seattle rally was led by members of local indigenous tribes, including Fawn Sharp, of the Quinault Nation.
“We are not for sale. We stand here today to ensure that no corporate interest, no power establishment, will take our lands, our power, or our individuals or our blessed future that we all envision,” Sharp told the crowd.
Hundreds of people over the past year have demonstrated in Seattle against the pipeline and others have traveled to North Dakota to join the Standing Rock Sioux’s fight.
Pipeline opponents won several victories last year, when President Barack Obama temporarily stopped the project in September and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied a permit in December. But Trump’s executive action advanced that stalled project and the Keystone XL Pipeline.
In Seattle Tuesday night, rally organizer Rachel Heaton, a member of the Muckleshoot Tribe, warned the crowd that the environmental fight could come closer to home.
“People are definitely heading back to camp, but the people that I’ve talked to who are involved with Standing Rock, are saying to mass locally and get involved at home because eventually these fights are going to be in our own backyards.”
She said local activists are already working quickly.
“Tomorrow we are meeting with one of the [Seattle] city council members to discuss the Responsible Social Banking Ordinance, which is for Seattle to divest $3 billion from Wells Fargo,” she said.
The Seattle City Council will discuss the ordinance next Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 9:30 a.m.
Matt Remle, teacher, activist, and Standing Rock Sioux Tribal member, encouraged the crowd to close accounts with Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Chase, which finance the Dakota Access Pipeline and fund the Kinder Morgan Pipeline in Canada.
“This fight’s not over. Show up next Wednesday, support our banking ordinance.”
Rally organizer Deyo Esquivel, Mohawk and Mexican, encouraged the crowd to stay active and announced a new organization called Intertribal Survival.
“We no longer accept the things we cannot change. We’re here to change the things we cannot accept. That’s exactly why my peers and I have gotten together in the Seattle Native community decided that we’re not going to stand by,” Esquivel said.
The protest moved from Westlake Park and followed drummers to the Westlake Mall Wells Fargo. Approximately 300 people filled the lobby, prompting Westlake security guards to close the metal security doors and block the entrance to Westlake Mall. The crowd sang several songs led by indigenous women, before the crowd dissipated.