Seattle City Council Says No Dakota Access Pipeline!

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On September 12, 2016, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the nearly 200 allied tribes, numerous environmental organizations, and thousands of activists who have joined in the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. See my remarks below.

Since April, despite a longstanding media blackout, we have seen explosive growth in the movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

In many ways, the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline is reminiscent of the struggle that activists waged against Keystone XL, and related struggles against pipelines by tribes and environmentalists in Canada. But where the anti-Keystone XL struggle took years of organization, mobilization, and resistance to see results, the #NoDAPL movement has broken through to the mainstream in just a matter a months. And it’s a reflection of the times that we live in. We live in a time of growing social movements.

In part, this breakthrough is also due to the recent organizational experience that we have gained – tribes, environmentalists, young and old activists, and others over the last few years. We have seen a broader level of engagement and an overwhelming and historic display of unity between tribes and communities rooted along the pipeline.

Nearly 200 Indian Nations, numerous environmental organizations, and thousands of other activists have turned out to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the pipeline, both at the Sacred Stone Camp and around the country.

Hundreds of the non-violent demonstrators at the Sacred Stone Camp have faced severe intimidation and repression, including:

  • state authorities in North Dakota cutting off water and medical access to campers;
  • the issuing of warrants, and the arrests of activists and journalists;
  • and physical attacks on activists with dogs and pepper spray by the multinational paramilitary private security firm, G4S, hired by the pipeline’s corporate backers.

Despite the DOJ’s action last week, the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline is far from over, as we know. We need to continue to build solidarity, national and international, and demand nothing less than an end to the pipeline itself.

State and local authorities must drop all charges against the dozens of tribe members and organizers with warrants, particularly the tens who have already been arrested or charged. Among those charged are Democracy Now! journalist Amy Goodman, and Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein.

The tribes, environmentalists, and socialists on the ground know that allowing new pipelines to be built is a massive step in the wrong direction in the fight against climate change. It’s a massively wrong step for our entire planet. Young people, children know it. Hundreds of millions of people around the world understand it. Then why does this keep happening?

It keeps happening because the control of these resources is in the hands of oil corporations who are driven, blindly, by private profits and short-term gains. And it’s not like they don’t have the IQ to understand the problem – they simply don’t have the incentives to support the solutions. And that is why this is a question of political control. We cannot let the oil executives, the 1%, the multi-billionaires, continue to drive climate change in their pursuit of profits. We cannot let the capitalists burn through every last extractable barrel: destroying our planet; and destroying the basic rights of our indigenous communities.

We need to organize, independent of those corporate forces. We need to win this fight, and to win this fight, we will need to continue to wage defensive struggles, like this one. But, Sisters and Brothers, that is only the beginning: We need to take the fight to the very doorstep of those who profit from the perpetuation of the fossil fuel economy!

And, for that, we need to continue to build our mass movements. Not only fighting these defensive struggles, but really fighting to move away from fossil fuels, and going towards an economy that provides a path away from fossil fuels, towards renewable energy, for living wage jobs, unionized jobs, education, healthcare, and social services.

But all of this depends on developing those mass movements that unite with one another across race and across ethnicities, but being clear that the 1% is not on our side. And for this we also need the development of an independent party of the 99% that refuses to take money from Big Oil – a party that will promote an unabashedly socialist platform, that can bring about the sustainable, economy-wide societal change we need.

I wanted to thank Matt Remle for authoring the first draft of this resolution, Gabe Galanda, Millie Kennedy, and everybody from our local community who weighed in on this. I especially wanted to thank Councilmember Juarez and everybody in her office who played a leadership role to work on this resolution.

I am proud, my Sisters and Brothers, to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux in this fight, and I thank them, most of all, for declaring their opposition and resistance to this pipeline. We can and we will defeat the Dakota Access Pipeline, and we can and we will continue to build the mass movement necessary to win a just, sustainable, and socialist economy for all.