Standing Rock protesters block railroad tracks in Bellingham
Protesters blocked railroad tracks near downtown Bellingham on Tuesday to show solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in its fight against the Dakota Access pipeline.
The protest was part of a national day of action that included demonstrations across the country, from California to Vermont.
The Bellingham demonstration began at 1:30 p.m. in Laurel Park, where protesters gathered before marching to the intersection of Chestnut Street and Central Avenue. As a crowd massed near the railroad tracks at the intersection, supporters in fluorescent vests blocked traffic from using Central Avenue between Holly and Chestnut streets.
Beth Brownfield and Peter Holcomb, both from Bellingham and both 75, locked hands inside a tube and sat in chairs on top of the railroad tracks. Both said they were protesting the use of fossil fuels, an issue they said affects everyone.
“The burning of it, the shipping of it, it’s all connected to all of us,” Brownfield said. “We just need to realize that connection and that we’re all related.”
Holcomb said he felt he was doing his part to protect the earth from “pipelines of poison.”
In addition to the Dakota Access pipeline, the group sought to decry other developments around the state, including proposed crude oil terminals in Vancouver, Wash., and another on Grays Harbor.
The group left the intersection near sundown and no arrests were made.
The $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline is to carry North Dakota oil to a shipping point in Illinois. The tribe has said the pipeline threatens drinking water and cultural sites.
Twenty-eight protesters were arrested west of Mandan, North Dakota. Morton County sheriff’s spokesman Rob Keller says about 400 protesters put a pickup and tree branches on BNSF Railway tracks Tuesday near a pipeline work staging area.
The railroad said trains were delayed three hours. Officers in riot gear used pepper spray and in one instance a stun gun against protesters who refused to leave.
Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access pipeline, is seeking a federal court’s permission to lay pipe under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota and finish the four-state project.
On Monday, the Army Corps of Engineers called for more study and input from the Standing Rock Sioux before it decides whether to allow the pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe.