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Shelter for Standing Rock Protestors Rolls In from Portland

Native American artist Clay with the Native American Youth and Family Center provides a mural for a side of the Bunk Bus. (Rick Rappaport)
Native American artist Clay with the Native American Youth and Family Center provides a mural for a side of the Bunk Bus. (Rick Rappaport)
November 10, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Help will be rolling in for oil pipeline protestors at Standing Rock all the way from the Northwest, in the form of a retrofitted school bus.

The Portland Climate Action Coalition, or CAC - made up of social and environmental justice groups - is working on what it calls the "Bunk Bus." The vehicle was bought by the coalition bought and has been equipped with beds and medical supplies.

Rick Rappaport of 350 PDX, a coalition member, said protestors are in an isolated part of North Dakota without any permanent structures nearby.

"The bus is going to make the trip from Portland to the Standing Rock standoff, and it will probably be parked somewhere,” Rapport said. “It will have heat and it will have bunks for people to take a respite from the cold or the weather, or the elements or the attack dogs, or whoever it is."

According to Rappaport, the Bunk Bus project came to fruition after Portland CAC members, Mike Horner and Harlan Shober, visited the Standing Rock encampment and became concerned for the protestors in the approaching North Dakota winter.

They bought a bus with the help of a gofundme page and now have a team of volunteer mechanics, carpenters and other tradesmen, working to get the vehicle ready. A painter from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe provided a mural for the side of the bus.

Recent protests over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a project of Energy Transfer Partners, have turned violent. Police and security officers have used rubber bullets, sound cannons and tear gas against the protesters and hundreds have been arrested.

Rappaport called Standing Rock a "monumental protest" for environmentalists.

"Bill McKibbon, who's the founder of 350.org, one of the leading environmentalists really in the country, called it the most important environmental action on the planet right now,” Rappaport said. "It's symbolic in so many ways."

Rappaport said the Portland CAC hopes the bus will be on its way by Sunday at the latest.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR