Protesters march from Bank of America Plaza and through downtown San Antonio.
By Y. Arroyo
About 300 people gathered near downtown Tuesday afternoon to demonstrate against a pipeline that will go through 50 counties in four states. Protesters in the SA March for Standing Rock Solidarity Movement said the pipeline could pollute the environment and strip Native Americans of their land.
The crowd stood in front of the Bank of America Plaza on Convent Street near Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.
“We stand for water, for our brothers, for our sisters, for life,” shouted Daryn Ian OceanSun Rinterra, environmental science sophomore at Northwest Vista and one of the protest’s organizers.
After a couple hundred protesters arrived at the Plaza, they began to march toward North St. Mary’s Street to the Rivercenter Mall then to the Alamo.
“Bank of America is one of the several financial institutions to fund Energy Transfer Partners and the Dakota Access Pipeline,” said Sawyer Jolly, one of the protest organizers. “We’re trying to get out here to stop letting their actions go unheard and unknown and hold them accountable for the things they try to invest in because it will affect nature, middle-class people and regular people all over the country the most.”
The Dakota Access Pipeline is a $3.7 billion project of company Energy Transfer Partners that would transport crude oil from the Bakken oil field in North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa into Illinois. The 1,172-mile pipeline would carry 470,000 barrels per day, according to The Guardian.
According to the Associated Press, leaders of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe claim that the pipeline project violates several federal laws and is an environmental disaster that will harm water supplies and sacred Native American sites.
The protesters carried signs reading “No DAPL,” “Stand with Sioux” and “People over pipelines” as the smell of burning sage and the sound of drums filled the air.
“It’s not just about what happens in North Dakota,” said Tanja Hernandez, 30. “The entire nation is susceptible to having public and indigenous land seizure, and our own rights are being taken away from us is the effect of profiteering.”
On the way to the Alamo some of the protesters shared their opinions about the pipeline.
“I think the alternative is to step away from fossil fuels,” said urban farmer Lori Solis. “We have other resources at our disposal that are clean and more infinite. That’s going to lead us into the future as an evolved populous and not continue to rely on the same resources that have polluted our environment.”
On their way back to the Plaza from the Alamo, the protesters chanted “water is life!” in front of the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.
At the Plaza, the chants continued, followed by a few speeches and a song performed by actor Jesse Borrego; Ramon Vasquez, executive director for the American Indians of Texas; and Sushi Zushi cook Miguel Lopez, who held a fan made from red-tailed hawk feathers and the flag of his nation, Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan. They gathered in front of the protesters and sang a song of blessing while the crowd clapped to the beat of their drum.
“The song is a song to bless the people and the gatherings of the people, to bless important events like this,” Borrego said.
“It’s an important day for us,” Vasquez said. “We’re all relatives, despite the color of our skin. We need to teach people to take care of each other, our brothers, our sisters, our elders and our waters.”
That water is essential to life, said Miguel Lopez, Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan nation member.
“We can’t live without water,” Lopez said. “We can live without oil; we’ve been doing it for hundreds of thousands of years.”
The protesters continued singing, drumming, and chanting on their second trip back to the Alamo.
“We need to let the rest of the world know we stand with Standing Rock,” yelled Rinterra as he stood on the walkway in front of the Alamo.
Some protesters feel like this isn’t the government’s problem and the problem should therefore be taken care of by the people it will affect the most.
“I don’t think we can depend on our government to unite the people,” Borrego said. “We have to change the way we think. We have to unify and make our own decisions.”
The organizers gave more speeches in front of the Alamo, followed by a couple of songs sung by Madelein Santibarez, Mayah Rodriguez, Ketzal and Maribel Gonzalez.
The first song was a woman’s warrior song for the women in North Dakota and a song for water to acknowledge that water is a blessing, Santibarez said.
The protest was still going strong at 6 p.m. It continued until 6:46 p.m., according to posts on the San Antonio Stands with Standing Rock Facebook page.
The protest was meant to end at 8 p.m. but finished an hour early because of exhaustion, according to Facebook posts.
“This is not a protest,” Borrego said. “It’s more of a demonstration showing that the people really care about each other, about their children, their future and that they care about their environment.”