Standing Rock protesters achieve temporary victory

Although pipeline stopped for now, it is not completely defeated

By Albie Nicol

In the spirit of humanity, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asked for a reroute of the Dakota Pipeline, so it would no longer run through Native American territory and risk the quality of their water. Instead of granting the final easement for the project, the Department of the Army said  they will be conducting an environmental impact statement to research the impacts of the pipeline and explore other route options.

In case you’ve been living under a rock the past few months, the 1,172-mile pipeline is being built to transport Bakken oil from North Dakota to an oil terminal in Illinois. The only missing piece of the pipeline is a 20-mile chunk near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

The tribe has always been loud about their concerns for water quality and disrupting their land, and eventually thousands of “water protectors” (the name the protestors and the media gave them) showed up to help peacefully protest against the completion of the pipeline going through the reservation. Recently over 2,000 veterans travelled to Standing Rock to join the protests and defend the native’s right to clean water and the right to peacefully assemble and protest.

While there is much to celebrate — a win for indigenous people,  a win for environmental activists, a win for clean water for all — it doesn’t come without a price. There were thousands of protesters at Standing Rock in the freezing weather. They chose to stand there and peacefully chant, be silent or give speeches.

But the police? They tortured the protestors. Police used water cannons against protesters in freezing temperatures. They shot protesters with rubber bullets and used flash-bang grenades against peaceful protesting. The excessive force used by police against peaceful protesters at Standing Rock injured more than 200 people.

Native Americans have filed a lawsuit against two North Dakota counties and their sheriffs in response, but sadly we all know how this goes — the officers get put on “suspension” or have “additional correctional training” before returning to their posts.

Another cost of the denial? It’s temporary. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to downplay the huge victory we’ve just achieved, but it doesn’t stop here. We have to call the Department of the Army, we have to call our legislators and we have to call anyone with a public post and let them know how important this issue is to us. The denial of the final easement only lasts until Jan. 20, so we need to continue to make our voice heard.

But there are positives. In defeating the pipeline, we defeated “president-elect” Donald Trump.  While Trump has many problematic stances, his view on environmental issues is downright scary. Trump believes climate change is a hoax (despite the science behind it), and supports the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline. In fact, he has personal investment ties to it. He invested between $500,000 and $1 million in the company creating the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners.

Many people on Trump’s side of things claim he has since withdrawn his support from the company — even if that is true, he still financially supports the pipeline.  He’s invested between $100,000 and $250,000 in Phillips 66, the oil and gas company that’ll have 25 percent stake in the finished pipeline.

So truly, in putting off the pipeline, even if just for a little bit, we’ve won a victory over someone who’s unfortunately about to gain a lot of power in America. We’ve also proved that peaceful protesting can be effective, and that we can create change with our voices.

People argue that rerouting the pipeline would disrupt land and water resources. Well, no matter where you put the pipeline, someone’s going to be unhappy, but disrupting native land given to the people who live there and also risking the water quality of thousands is a much more negative proposition.

The American Flag has a different meaning to everyone. But does that mean to go to the extreme and burn the flag? The flag that shows all our sacrifices, justices and is part of what makes America great? Many people today just don’t understand the sacrifice that our flag stands for from all those brave men and women who fought to preserve our way of life and freedom. But at times, our freedom can really be taken for granted and misused because nowadays people think they can do whatever they want and have whatever they want whenever they want it.

The American flag should not be burned because it is the symbol for our country’s freedom and all of the brave sacrifices made to preserve our country’s freedom.

According to a google source, “The colors of the pales (the vertical stripes) are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness and valour, and Blue, the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice.”

This is what our flag stands for and much more. On Tuesday, Nov. 29, President-elect Donald Trump proposed the idea of, “possible jail time or loss of citizenship — for burning the American flag, in spite of two U.S. Supreme Court rulings that protect the act under the First Amendment as a form of free speech.”

Trump said, “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag — if they do, there must be consequences — perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!”

Now many may see this as an extreme punishment. Even when I read this, it surprised me, but when you really think about it, that flag is a symbol about how millions of men and women sacrificed their lives to preserve our freedom, while thousands of those men and women paid the ultimate sacrifice.

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