Art by Jennae Rochelle Bennett.
A passionate group of Long Beach locals have banded together to throw an event in support of those protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
This Friday, LBC Stands with Standing Rock: The Fight Continues, will offer a space for attendees to learn about and support the ongoing effort of the “water protectors” who continue to stand their ground on the reservation.
Several people close to the cause are slated to speak, including Jay Ponti, Laura Palomares and George Funmaker, an indigenous activist who spoke at a Long Beach City Council meeting in early November calling on the city to reevaluate its relationship with oil, with the rally cry of “you can’t eat money, and you can’t drink oil.”
“The bigger picture is transitioning from fossil fuels, to keep those in the ground and transition to renewable energy[...] not for us but for our children,” he said.
Several local bands and artists are also set to perform and share their skills, including King Kang, whose vocalist Esther Kang helped organize the event, MC Artson of H.O.M.E., a hip hop and holistic lifestyle boutique on The Promenade, Cheyenne Phoenix, a full time student at LBCC and youth activist with the Los Angeles Native Community and El MarRio, an Aboriginal Indigenous Law activist and music maker, among many more.
The event is a local response to a statement released December 4 by the company behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, declaring they "remain fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting," after being denied the permit to complete construction by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
The weekend before the statement's release, a group of 200 protesters gathered in Long Beach in solidarity with Standing Rock, later alluding to the issue being far from over.
“[...]We are all unified by the struggle of water protectors, but also it’s about supporting indigenous sovereignty and telling the native people of this country that we believe that the promises our government made to you[...] should be honored,” said Olivia Trevino, one of the main organizers of the event. “And [with] that, we band with you [in the belief that] this pipeline, does not belong on your ancestral land with the bones of your people.”
Many protesters have gone home since the Army Corps of Engineers announced they would deny the necessary permit for the oil pipeline to be routed under the Missouri River. The chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe also asked protesters to return to their homes, according to NPR, as not everyone is equipped to survive a harsh North Dakota winter, said Trevino.
“This movement is important on so many levels,” Trevino continued. “It is a fight to protect mother earth and the future of humanity, [...] to prioritize people over profits, to resist environmental racism which makes it okay to pollute the water of marginalized groups, a fight against companies using police as private security and those police using excessive force against peaceful warriors.”
The materials donated and funds raised at the Long Beach event will be sent to the Red Medicine Liberation Camp, to be distributed as the camp sees fit. Those still protesting are “the most hardcore of the hardcore,” said Trevino, and will certainly need all the help they can get to ensure their survival during the coldest months.
Long Beach local and LBC Stands with Standing Rock organizer Carina Clemente traveled to the reservation during Thanksgiving break, and experienced firsthand the nature of the camp. For three days, Clemente focused on grunt work, endured an overnight security shift and helped with mediation and organization, she said. She said no confrontations took place while she was there and the most difficult part was having to leave.
“I had gotten to do so much there and I had gotten to build such good relationships with people in such a short amount of time, I didn’t want to leave,” she said. “It was one of those, I still feel like I can do something productive here, but then it’s the realism of, I have rent to pay.”
Clemente hopes that what attendees will take away from the event is simply more of an education about the issue. She hopes people will leave inspired to, at the least, take a little bit of action, saying, “There’s tons of things that people can do to support Standing Rock that doesn’t involve having to go all the way out there.”
Funds will also be raised for the legal defense fund for Red Fawn, a human rights advocate who was arrested in October during a police raid, remains behind bars and has been called a "political prisoner" of the Standing Rock movement by water protectors anxiously awaiting her release.
“It is a fight for everyone, and we have the indigenous people to thank for taking a brave and determined stand [...] and inviting the world to stand with them,” said Trevino. "Standing Rock is everywhere. If we can kill this pipeline it sends a powerful message to the oil industry and to our government that it's time for big changes in our overall energy system.”
For more information about LBC Stands with Standing Rock, including the list of materials that can be donated, visit the Facebook event page here.
From the Moon is located at 2749 East Anaheim Street.