As water protectors work to protect the land and water that is sacred to both the tribes to whom it belongs, and to the communities all over the nation dependent upon safe, clean water, others are looking into the motivations by police and corporations to force this pipeline into reality.
While the president finally acknowledged the widespread protests this week by saying that engineers are considering alternate routes for the pipelines, it is clear that he misses the point. Water protectors are not just opposing the presence of the pipeline on treaty lands – rather, they are working to protect the water of hundreds of communities.
So why is this pipeline being built in the first place? Why here, and why now?
One clue to this answer is to look at who is funding the pipeline – and who stands to profit from it.
According to Democracy Now, there are dozens of banks backing the pipeline, including some of the worst corporate offenders.
“[D]ozens of financial institutions that are bankrolling the Dakota Access pipeline, including Bank of America, HSBC, UBS, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase.”
With that kind of big bank capital, the pressure is on to complete this pipeline in a timely and efficient manner. The one thing standing in the way of that efficiency is the scores of protesters and water protectors who are calling on the corporation and the federal government to put human life and planetary health over profit.
So what do the police forces do to keep the pipeline on schedule? They attack peaceful protesters with rubber bullets, mace, tasers, and brute force. They arrive in riot gear and walking in-line with military-grade humvees. They charge through sacred burial grounds and assault elders holding prayer sticks.
This cannot stand.