About 100 people marched through downtown Bellingham on Friday, Oct. 28, to show solidarity with Native American tribes protesting a planned oil pipeline in North Dakota.
The months-long dispute over the Dakota Access Pipeline in southern North Dakota has caused clashes between Native American rights and environmental activists, pipeline supporters and law enforcement. The planned pipeline would skirt the reservation of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has said it was not properly informed of the plans.
The protest in Bellingham comes one day after authorities in riot gear used pepper spray and bean bags to remove the activists in North Dakota from their campsite on private land where they sat in the way of the pipeline’s construction.
We’re here to tell Bellingham residents that we’ll follow the leadership of the Natives in that area, but also throughout the nation, that we demand that the government withdraws all the police that have raided and arrested Native people.
Maru Mora, Community to Community
Local protesters gathered at the Federal Building downtown about 4:30 p.m., occupying the four corners of the intersection of Holly Street and Cornwall Avenue. There, speakers gave short speeches denouncing oil companies and large banks, and condemning what some called “dark politics” exhibited throughout the course of the presidential race.
Many held signs calling for peace, as others decried the “theft of land and water.” Many signs read “We Stand with Standing Rock,” a rallying cry for supporters of the anti-pipeline activists in North Dakota.
Maru Mora with Community to Community, a women-led nonprofit that supports farmworkers’ and immigrants’ rights, spoke on behalf of the protesters.
“We’re here to tell Bellingham residents that we’ll follow the leadership of the Natives in that area, but also throughout the nation, that we demand that the government withdraws all the police that have raided and arrested Native people,” Mora said.
Marchers began walking southwest on Cornwall Avenue about 5:20 p.m., eventually turning southeast down Holly. Along the way, marchers were met with honks of support from drivers as march organizers dressed in bright green vests kept the crowd together.
The protesters turned off Holly onto Lakeway Drive and eventually stopped in the parking lot at the Discount Tire, ending the march with more speeches.