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Group Urges Illinoisans to Support Standing Rock Protesters

The 1,200-mile Dakota Access pipeline route begins in North Dakota and ends up in Illinois. (
The 1,200-mile Dakota Access pipeline route begins in North Dakota and ends up in Illinois. (
November 29, 2016

DUPAGE COUNTY, Ill. – Protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline continued over the holiday weekend, and hundreds have been arrested, but environmental advocates in Illinois are urging a show of support. The 1,200-mile pipeline would carry oil across four states to a shipping point in Marion County. The Standing Rock Sioux say it threatens drinking water on their reservation, as well as cultural sites.

The Democratic Party of DuPage County is taking a stand with the tribe. Dan Bailey, one of the party's executive committee delegates, said the pipeline also affects water safety in Illinois.

"Not only should we demonstrate, we should also support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe that's on the front lines of this situation," he said. "They could use some of our help."

This month, the executive committee approved a resolution calling for a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation, since the lands the Sioux are fighting to protect were guaranteed to them under a treaty with the U.S. government.

Pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners has said no Native American cultural sites have been disturbed, and insists the line will be safe.

Bailey sees the pipeline protests as part of a larger issue that also affects Illinois and the nation, the use of fossil fuels and their effects on climate change.

"The more we invest in infrastructure that's going in a fossil-fuel direction, the harder it is to turn our country and the world away from fossil fuels," he explained. "We need to go towards a sustainable economy and a sustainable energy system."

Dozens were arrested during a Black Friday pipeline protest in Bismarck. Hundreds also turned out this weekend in support of law enforcement. Since the protests began, more than 500 people have been arrested.

The Morton County sheriff in North Dakota claims the protesters have become more aggressive, and said he won't apologize for actions his officers have taken. Activists say it's the police acting aggressively, and they vow to continue to protest.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IL