PHOTOS BY ALEJANDRO ALVAREZ
VIDEO AND ARTICLE BY FORD FISCHER

A rally featuring Senator Bernie Sanders (I) and political activist Van Jones attracted hundreds outside the White House Tuesday. News2Share’s Ford Fischer and Alejandro Alvarez were there. The protest against the four-state Dakota Access Pipeline was part of a wider “Day of Action” across the country.

Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe attended. The tribe filed a lawsuit lawsuit against the pipeline, but so far a judge has declined to block it. Some members of the tribe ran from North Dakota to Washington to deliver a 140,000-signature petition this summer.

Speakers called on President Barack Obama to block the pipeline using his executive authority.

Bernie Sanders Speaks

Bernie Sanders Speaks

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders’ speech emphasized water, noting theories that future wars will be fought not over lack of oil, but over lack of water. In addition to historical preservation, he feels the project threatens the local water supply. He added that the project is would have “the same impact on the environment as adding 21 million cars to our roads.”

“This is crazy stuff,” he proclaimed. “This pipeline must be stopped.”

Hillary Clinton, who was endorsed by Bernie Sanders, has not yet commented on the pipeline. Meanwhile, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein has a warrant out for her arrest after protesting on-site at the pipeline.

Van Jones Speaks

“Water is life. Oil is death.” Van Jones put his views in no uncertain terms, speaking to the crowd. Jones described that oil is a result of decaying dead organisms from thousands of years ago. He then explains that fossil fuels therefore cause death, such as by asthma and as a result of global warming.

Women Donors Network Speaks to News2Share

Women Donors Network, a community of women philanthropists, has also spoken out about the pipeline. Although they were not directly involved in Tuesday’s protest, they have been an active voice in the movement to fight the Dakota Access Pipeline. Following the organization condemning the pipeline, News2Share’s Ford Fischer interviewed Donna P. Hall, president of the Women Donors Network.

NEWS2SHARE: Why do you support this movement, and do you feel like it can succeed? 

Donna P. Hall: We support the Standing Rock Sioux Nation because we firmly believe that the recent violence against Native Americans trying to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline is appalling. After centuries of broken treaties and human rights abuses, the time has come for a line in the sand on indigenous rights — and right now that line is in North Dakota.

With increasingly severe weather from climate change and ongoing oil spills that contaminate the air and water of people near fossil fuel projects, the time has come to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

We believe this movement can be successful — all we need is for President Obama to step in and cancel the permit. As long-time supporters of indigenous rights and environmental justice through our Earth Circle, WDN knows that the keys to a successful movement are resources and proactive support. With those things, it is possible to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline.

NEWS2SHARE: Talk to me about the attack-dog incident. You compare it to Birmingham, Alabama. Do you believe this is a civil rights issue?

Donna P. Hall: Yes, this is a civil rights issue. When a community that is peacefully assembling, praying, and speaking out against injustice gets attacked by for-hire cops with dogs, it is a violation of civil rights and free speech that should concern us all. The Standing Rock Sioux Nation and their supporters have the constitutional right to assemble and protect their land without being victims of violence.

NEWS2SHARE: How does Women Donors Network plan to respond to the incident?

Donna P. Hall: First, WDN is standing in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. Second, our members have rapidly responded with mobilizing additional resources to support their efforts. Third, we are calling for President Obama and his administration to cancel the permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline. We are actively looking for other ways to be supportive of this fight.

NEWS2SHARE: To someone mostly unaware of this issue, what would you want for them to know about it?

Donna P. Hall: President Obama has the ability and authority to reject the Dakota Access Pipeline, much like the Keystone Pipeline. We know President Obama cares deeply about the environment and climate change, and that he has signaled a strong interest in protecting the rights of Native American people — now we just need him to take one last action before he leaves office to stop this dangerous pipeline.

This is important to know: Over 4,000 people, indigenous people and allies, have set up camp at Standing Rock. This makes it the 15th largest city in North Dakota, virtually overnight. This is a historic stand both for Native American rights and to stop climate change, and you don’t want to miss it. We ask people to support them in any way possible — whether by sending supplies or funding — because as the protectors are saying “mni wiconi” (water is life in Lakota).