This Saturday protesters gathered outside of the Oregon State Capitol Building in Salem for the “Oregonians Stand with Standing Rock Rally and March.”
The rally is one of many across the nation in reaction to the proposed construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline that will run through four states — Iowa, Illinois, North Dakota and South Dakota. The pipeline would run in close proximity to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, potentially polluting the main water sources in surrounding areas.
The Standing Rock protests garnered national attention in September after a police dog was filmed attacking five supporters who attempted to enter a construction site that had begun work on what the Natives considered sacred land.
In late October Facebook users began “checking in” at the reservation in order to throw off law enforcement from tracking individuals who were already there, after reports of violent confrontation between protesters and police became national news. Over one million Facebook users checked in.
Oregonian Leslie Bradley also used Facebook to get the word out about her rally this past weekend. Bradley advertised the march through her Facebook page, where she has less than 50 friends.
“I wasn’t sure if people would even see the event. I was excited to see that it was being shared throughout Facebook,” Bradley said
It wasn’t expected to attract more than 100 people. Bradley seemed genuinely surprised when she told the crowd that she had just been informed that more than 200 people were in attendance.
“My husband said I couldn’t do it, and when I found out I needed a permit to hold a rally, I thought he may be right,” Bradley said.
Protesters met under a cloudy sky across the street from the State Capitol building. Bradley had a microphone and a speaker setup, where she introduced several speakers — a mix of local activists, some of whom have ties to the Standing Rock Tribe. They spoke about the importance of water as a human rights issue, and not just an environmental issue.
Ken Runningcrane is a Native American from South Dakota. He relocated to Oregon 16 years ago after getting out of the Army.
“The reason we are here is because we understand that this affects us all. Water is the only thing that will keep us alive. This is not just a native or indigenous issue,” Runningcrane said.
After the speakers commenced, protesters marched around the capitol building and chanted “water is life.”
The Facebook event page indicates that it had been shared 3,000 times, and 430 people checked in as having gone to the rally.