In league with coast-to-coast protests, more than 100 demonstrators on Tuesday gathered in downtown Kansas City to chant, sing and speak out against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The demonstration outside the Richard Bolling Federal Building at 12th and Cherry streets passed without violence or arrests, consisting largely of protesters chanting and waving signs at passing motorists.
“It upsets me that, once again, the Indians are being mistreated,” said Vicki Chamberlin, a 54-year-old retired federal worker from Sugar Creek. “It’s time we honored the treaties.”
Many of those who came to the late afternoon protest said they were motivated by solidarity with the Lakota Sioux who’ve led the charge against Energy Transfer Partners’ proposal to install the $3.8 billion, 1,100-mile pipeline from North Dakota through Iowa to Illinois.
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The Kansas City protesters’ call-and-response included chants such as “can’t drink oil/keep it in the soil” and “people over pipelines/water is life.”
Supporters of the pipeline argue it’s key to U.S. energy independence and would create jobs along the route.
But the project has been stalled, partly by months of protests that have prompted federal regulators to hold back on the final approval that would let construction begin.
Protests took place from California to Vermont on Tuesday. Most passed without incident. But more than two dozen people were arrested near Mandan, N.D., when a pickup truck and tree branches were used to block railroad tracks.
Those who gathered in downtown Kansas City said the pipeline risks fouling the Missouri River when it crosses the waterway in North Dakota, could contaminate ground water along other stretches and infringes on tribal rights. Since April, protesters drawn mostly from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation that straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota line have camped out in North Dakota to block the pipeline. Protesters in Kansas City sought online donations to keep that encampment going.
John Reyna, a Kansas City medical technician who grew up on the Standing Rock reservation, used a bullhorn to tell the crowd about growing up swimming in and fishing from the Missouri. Now, Reyna said, he worries that the pipeline could pollute the river.
“When the water is compromised, it won’t be easy to (clean it up) again,” he said.
Aaron Crossley said he felt compelled to join the protest to “stand with people who don’t have a voice.” American Indian tribes, he said, have been cheated by treaty violations in the past and could be hurt by the pipeline.
“It’s time to stand up and stand in solidarity with those people on this,” said the 37-year-old social worker from Independence.
Others who came to protest spoke of moving away from oil and replacing it with renewable energy, of pressuring banks and energy companies that have backed the pipeline and about protecting Kansas City’s water supply. The city draws its drinking water from the Missouri.
“I don’t want a pipeline crossing the Missouri upstream from our water source,” said Terry King, 58, a web developer from Kansas City. “That’s just a bad idea.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.