On Saturday, before the US Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to deny the permit for a hotly-contested section of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which would have been located just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, a cluster of 200 people gathered in Long Beach in support of the Standing Rock tribe.
Standing Rock had been joined by hundreds of protesters, after they began taking a peaceful stand in July for a re-routing or removal of the DAPL, citing potential damage to water sources and the proposed route’s proximity to sacred tribal land. The decision represents a reversal to prior policy, as the US Army Corps of Engineers had promised to arrest activists who refused to leave the protest site by this morning. The Corps then backtracked, stating it had no plans to forcibly remove activists who chose to stay.
The Creative Progressive Collective posted a photo of the group on Facebook, with their bodies strategically placed to spell out “#NODAPL / WATER IS LIFE.”
“Over 200 people came together on Saturday in Long Beach, CA to stand in solidarity with the #NoDAPL movement and share this symbol of synergy that WATER IS LIFE!,” reads a post on the group’s Facebook page. “We all play such a vital role in this wonderful world of ours, and when we come together as a community, bringing our best to the table, we can achieve anything. This movement should continue to inspire us daily, to work for a better future for every single living organism on this planet.”
The move preceded the Long Beach City Council Tuesday discussion of the topic—where the council is expected to draft a formal resolution expressing official support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies, according to the agenda.
Long Beach resident and participant Stephanie Ervin said she was encouraged by Sunday’s news, but remained wary about the future.
“I’m encouraged by their decision, but relocating the pipeline doesn’t solve the overall issue,” she told the Post. “I think we need to significantly decrease our reliance on fossil fuels, and simply relocating the pipeline doesn’t negate the fact that pipelines are still an environmental threat.”
Ervin said she was nervous about the incoming administration, and potential action, or lack thereof, regarding the pipeline and change in administration.
Meanwhile, the group seeking to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) and Sunoco Logistics Partners (SXL), issued a statement indicating the fight to build the pipeline was far from over.
“The White House’s directive today to the Corps for further delay is just the latest in a series of overt and transparent political actions by an administration which has abandoned the rule of law in favor of currying favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency,” reads the ETP statement. “As stated all along, ETP and SXL are 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 in and around Lake Oahe. Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way.”
However, for a brief moment over the weekend, advocates for Standing Rock allowed themselves a small celebration.
“Our prayers have been answered,” National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby said in a statement to NPR. “This isn’t over, but it is enormously good news. All tribal peoples have prayed from the beginning for a peaceful solution, and this puts us back on track.”