Dozens of demonstrators marched late Tuesday through downtown Olympia in response to President Donald Trump’s executive orders to move forward with the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines.
A similar protest involving several hundred people rallied in Seattle about the same time.
About 6 p.m., demonstrators blocked Fourth Avenue outside Olympia City Hall before marching through the city and turning around at the end of the Fourth Avenue bridge. The demonstration wrapped up about 8 p.m. back at City Hall. Police diverted traffic and no arrests were reported.
Demonstrators carried a large illuminated “water is life” sign while chanting “shut it down” and “you can’t drink oil, keep it in the soil” in reference to the pipelines.
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The nearly 1,200-mile Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota — which was sidelined in December — has attracted thousands of protesters opposed to the pipeline’s route under the tribe’s drinking water source.
The Keystone XL project would bring oil from Canada to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries through a 1,179-mile pipeline. It was halted by President Barack Obama in 2015.
Trump’s actions are considered part of an effort to revamp U.S. energy policy.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Olympia City Council, Mayor Cheryl Selby reaffirmed the city’s opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. The council passed such a resolution in October in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
“The City of Olympia calls upon the federal government to obtain the free, prior and informed consent of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, prior to taking any federal action regarding the DAPL that would harm or destroy the Tribe’s ancestral lands, waters and sacred sites,” according to the resolution.
Caro Gonazales, who participated in Tuesday’s demonstration, said the city has a responsibility to stop the shipment of fracking sands at the Port of Olympia. These shipments have sparked opposition, including a weeklong protest camp in November that blocked train tracks from carrying fracking-related cargo that’s used to extract underground oil in regions such as North Dakota.
“They have allowed these fracking sands to go through their port,” said Gonzales, who spent six months protesting at Standing Rock last year. “We were here to let the world know that we’re not going to let Trump get away with it. … We’re also not going to stand for our local city government to contribute to that.”
Tuesday’s protest cost the Olympia Police Department about $1,500 in overtime wages, spokesperson Laura Wohl said. Demonstrations sometimes require more officers, which means police are responding to fewer calls in other parts of the city, Wohl said. In some situations, law enforcement from other jurisdictions will assist Olympia police with handling regular calls or a demonstration.
At the Seattle rally, activists said Trump’s decision was devastating and a rebuke to their efforts to protect the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s rights, water supply and sacred sites, the Seattle Times reported.
Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp told Seattle demonstrators: “No matter who you are, you have that precious vision for the future that you have with your children, your grandchildren and several generations out. We all stand united to make sure no power establishment will take that from us.”