I won’t tell you why I’m against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
I won’t explain it because by now, I shouldn’t have to, and I’m sure you have an opinion on DAPL. I’m sure you have an opinion on all pipelines; on tar sands oil, on moving said oil around, on fracking for it, and climate change.
Here’s my opinion: I started cycle-commuting five years ago. I sold my car a year after that. I traded my Southwest credit card for an Amtrak one, and carpool if it’s necessary. I switched from gas to wood stove. I cut my monthly electric usage from 450 kWh (peak) to 50 kWh (average). In the way home projects can be fun, it was fun. (Start with a Kill-A-Watt.)
I did these things because I didn’t feel protesting did a damn thing.
After Bush II was came to power, the first time, I got involved with groups protesting the World Economic Forum, and our violent response to 9/11. I really threw myself into it, and I burned out just as quick. The last time I took to the streets was the day after we invaded Iraq. It’s not that I stopped caring. I just didn’t see how my presence made any difference.
That changed last week. With Trump’s election, I’ve had to find new reasons to get into the fight. I have two now, which are probably the same: Being there makes me feel less alone, and documenting gives me purpose.
So I joined the #NoDAPL protests in Albuquerque.
The world saw these two racist white girls, “playing” water protectors for Halloween. It needs to see more real support from real people, for the real water protectors, every other day of the year.
Today was a nationwide #NoDAPL protest. It was an honor to join First Nations people—a lot of Tewa-speaking peoples repped hard today in Burque—who have led this fight for years now. (I saw Winona LaDuke in 2014, the night before the Gathering of Nations, talk about the fight against Keystone.) They laid the groundwork, and have literally put their bodies into the line of fire. For them to accept us—to accept me—as an ally in their fight, which is our fight, was profound.
Maybe that’s some of the meaning I’ve looked for 15 years ago, in the streets.
The cops were reasonable to us. They blocked traffic, didn’t hassle anyone (that I saw), and let us pass. That’s not something to congratulate them for—for being reasonable. It’s like saying, “Hey, man, I’m so proud of you for not stalking that woman who rejected you. Nice work.”
If they’d joined the protest, or shamed their siblings in uniform in North Dakota, for their shameful treatment of the very people protecting their own children’s access to clean water, that would’ve been worth celebrating.
So I don’t know what today meant. We’ll see. And now you can, too.