On February 5th, Super Bowl Sunday, a group of Los Angeles Catholic Workers and friends joined thousands of Angelenos to stand against the Dakota Access (DAPL) and Keystone XL (KXL) pipelines. The march, which went from Pershing Square to the Federal Building, came just 12 days after Donald Trump signed executive orders to begin approval of the DAPL and KXL pipelines, 9 days after the North Dakota legislature introduced a bill that would make it legal for drivers to “unintentionally” run over protesters standing on the road, and 4 days after North Dakota police and national guard forces began kittling and arresting the water protectors at Standing Rock. Equipped with an array of creative signage, the mass of people that marched in protest carried a roughly 100 foot mock-pipeline above their heads demanding, “JUSTICIA CLIMATICA AHORA” and “NO MORE DIRTY OIL.”
Those who spoke offered a compendium of things for the large crowd to reflect on. The speakers asked the crowd to remember the sacredness of the land we were on, wondering also what the land’s ancestors would say about the streets and skyscrapers that dominated the scene. They highlighted the indigenous community’s indefinite boycott of the Super Bowl until the NFL ends its support of Washington DC’s racist mascot. They recognized that many in the crowd had arrived via Uber, despite the national boycott of Uber for their refusal to support NYC taxi drivers during their strike at JFK airport over the immigration ban. The organizers also shared that their attempts to contact the organizers of the Women’s March in an effort to try and work together had been met with silence.
But the recognition of a common reliance on water, a need for coming together and a valuing of prayer kept the space sacred. A mixture of native music and performances permitted the audience to center those most affected by the government’s refusal to honor indigenous lives and treaties. And as one speaker reflected, “Use your voice, your gifts and your talents to spread the word. Use whatever you have to spread love and awareness to your neighbors and to all communities facing oppression. Walk in prayer every day.” And so we returned home wondering how will we use our gifts and voices to continue this necessary fight.
Recent events at the pipeline site include the North Dakota Army National Guard’s deployment of two surface-to-air missile-launchers near a critical work site, and in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, almost 11 months after the first spiritual resistance camp was founded in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, federal and local law enforcement agents forcibly cleared those who occupied land the federal government promised to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe under the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty.