Update Feb 7: US Army Corps of Engineers scraps EIS, announces final easement and permt for the pipeline will be granted. Water protectors, many of them veterans, heading back to Standing Rock despite dangerous cops and weather conditions. Strong hearts to the front!
On the 6th of February, perhaps ten times as many people showed up for a NoDAPL protest at a Dupont Circle area Citibank as would have last Fall. Also different was the police response: cops strategically positioned in locations nearly surrounding the crowd as though waiting for more cops and an order to kettle the protest.The divestment campaign is starting to bite: days ago Seattle divested $3 billion from Well Fargo due to their investments in the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Perhaps the police formation at the Feb 6 DC Citibank protest was just where there was room for the cops to stand, but perhaps it was meant for intimidation or other purposes. Clearly the environment is not what it was three weeks ago. Nowhere is this more true than Standing Rock, where warriors are being recalled to the site for what could be a “goal line stand” defense. The Citibank protest was part of the continent-wide divestment campaign seeking to starve out the “Black Snake” pipeline and make Trump’s orders to issue an easement irrelevant.
Right now there are court, legal, and on-the-ground ways to stop the Dakota Access pipeline possible. In court, Trump’s order to forget the already-started Environmental Impact Statement process and simply issue an easement for construction could well be hit with another injunction. It was Federal courts that shut down Trump’s Muslim/Travel ban at least temporarily. Trump is doing poorly before the bench, and that may be where this pipe of death is blocked.
If court challenges fail, the divestment campaign exemplified by the Feb 6 Citibank protest is a parallel track. This campaign seeks to make the DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline) the Huntingdon Life Sciences of oil: so hot no bank or investor will touch it. Without banks or investors, the project will run out of steam and collapse. The Black Snake becomes the Dead Snake.
Time is short, however: the only unbuilt part of the pipeline is the portion running directly under the river. If court challenges fail, construction could be done in weeks. It takes time to starve out anything by siege warfare, which is what a divestment campaign amounts to. Thus calls are now circulating for water protectors to return to Standing Rock for what could only become an all-out defensive stand. This defensive stand would not have to hold forever, only slow down the construction and raise the price of aggression until it becomes more than the remaining banks and investors consider worthwhile. This could prove to be very expensively won time for the heroes who will put their freedom and their lives on the line to secure it. This is what warriors do: give of themselves that the people and future generations may live.
This is speculation, but in my judgment the “Stand at Standing Rock” might work rather like a football team making a defense at the 2 yard line, which although a brutally difficult job with low odds can be made to work by an utterly determined team. It works best in that team’s home arena before a vast crowd of militantly noisy supporters who drown out the other team’s communications. In this case, the economic siege of the project by the divestment campaign could make this comparable to a goal line stand after the two minute warning. It may not have to hold for more than a couple months, especially if the fallout from incidents at Standing Rock poisons the DAPL project’s reputation amoung investors.
The difference from a football goal line stand is that football games do not arm one side (the police, National Guard, and DAPL security) while the other is intentionally not armed. It is possible also that an exceptionally ugly incident could force Sunoco/Energy Transfer to walk away like what SouthWest Energy had to do in New Brunswich, Occupied Canada after the Mi’kmaq beseiged their staging area for frackable gas exploration back in 2014. Still, the election changes absolutely everything. This is totally uncharted terrain.
The legacy of Custer continues in projects like the Black Snake pipeline.
Early in the protest, before most cops arrived
Cops standing in a loose L formation that could be interpreted as telling protesters they could be kettled at any time