Pipeline activists protest in Detroit

The Detroit News

Joining demonstrations nationwide, hundreds of activists marched and blocked traffic in downtown Detroit on Tuesday night to protest the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota.

National activists called for demonstrators to protest at Army Corps of Engineers offices and sites of banks that are financing the pipeline project. The protesters want President Barack Obama to permanently halt the construction of the $3.8 billion pipeline.

The pipeline is to run beneath a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota that provides drinking water to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which says the pipeline threatens drinking water and cultural sites.

Carrying homemade signs reading “No DAPL” and “We Stand For Sacred Land,” Detroit demonstrators gathered to highlight the pipeline project while also raising awareness about broader issues related to water access and affordability.

“We have tens of thousands of people without water because they can’t afford it,” said Jennifer Teed, who is active with the Detroit Light Brigade, one of the protest organizers. “Water is life.”

As many as 500 demonstrators streamed past Campus Martius and bank buildings before forming a circle near Griswold and Michigan, blocking traffic near the American Coney Island as city police officers looked on.

Among the crowd was Kara Windsor, who belongs to the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and lives in Metro Detroit. She wanted to show her support for the Standing Rock Sioux.

“This is what we can do to help them besides giving them supplies,” she said. “There are so many people who don’t know about this issue. This issue is not just a native issue. It’s for everyone.”

Earlier Tuesday, scores of demonstrators with the group 350 SE Michigan also marched downtown to protest the project.

The Army Corps of Engineers has decided to delay an easement for the Dakota Access pipeline, saying it needs more studies and tribal input before it can decide whether to allow the oil pipeline to cross under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota.

The company building the pipeline has denounced the decision. Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren said in a statement Monday that the move is “motivated purely by politics at the expense of a company that has done nothing but play by the rules.”

The MAIN Coalition, an industry group supporting the pipeline, also criticized the Corps’ decision, calling it an attempt at “death by delay.”

But Blackcrow Samuel Mejie of Ypsilanti, who is active with Idle No More Michigan, an indigenous grassroots group, hoped the project would be halted.

“We cannot have oil in our water — no oil, no chemicals,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.