Close the Schools, House the Rich

by deeg

Eleven of Oakland’s 80 public schools are being closed, merged, or having their programs reduced during the next two years.

Despite massive community protests ranging from hunger strikes to town halls to marches and rallies, two Oakland schools, Parker K-8 and Community Day, are on this year’s hit list and will be closed in June.  An additional five other schools, originally proposed to be closed this year, will be closed in June 2023 — Korematsu, Horace Mann, Brookfield, Carl B. Munck and Grass Valley. Rise Community and New Highland Academy will be merged in 2022, and Hillcrest and La Escuelita will decrease the number of grades they teach.

Ninety-three percent of the students in the schools scheduled for closure are identified as lower-income, English learners or foster youth, as compared to 80 percent for the district as a whole. 43 percent of the students in the targeted schools are Black, which is double the percentage in the district as a whole. No school which has greater percentage of white students than the rest of the district is targeted for closure.

photo of banner at protest

Poor Magazine and the Homefulness community is part of the fight to save the schools including, Parker. Tiny wrote,

“This is a family school, they are tearing families apart. We have to make sure this school stays open for K-8 students. The School Board didn’t do an equity analysis on these schools before they put them on a list for closure,” said Misty, a warrior known for her work with Moms4Housing as she stood outside Parker Elementary School, a powerful comeUnity school located in Deep East (Occupied Huchuin) Oakland, which along with so many more schools in majority Black and Brown neighborhoods are facing the insanity of sudden closure .

Oakland is not unique. A number of factors are wrecking public schools all over the country. The first is a concerted decades-long campaign to privatize public education – including vouchers and charter schools. Now using the buzzword of “critical race theory” the racist, anti queer/trans, pro-prayer-in-school right wing “community” is sick of the ideas that could possibly be available in public schools. They prefer that old time religion. For over thirty years, legislation and court decisions have undermined public education and supported “parental choice.” This has bled enrollment from public schools and diverted public school funds.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated school underfunding. In California, public schools were closed for much of 2020. Schools attempted to continue education through distance learning, generally online. For elementary school kids, this meant a loss of school as childcare for working parents. Teachers were required to work long hours, often doing double shifts to cover online classes. Online learning required internet and computers, which oddly enough were not as widely available in poor communities, particularly low income communities of color. Oakland and other Bay Area school districts purchased and distributed laptops to students, and in some cases arranged for free or low-rate internet access, and this helped improve access, but as of May 2021, according to the Public Policy Institute of california, “nearly 40% of low-income students still lack reliable internet access; so do a third of Black and Latino students.”

When schools reopened by state mandate at the end of the summer 2021, the schools had done nothing, or less, to improve ventilation or other conditions that might reduce the risk of disease.  The now-forgotten omicron outbreak from November 2021 to January 2022, led to quarantines and local shutdowns, which impacted daily attendance. California’s school funding levels depend on average daily attendance (ADA), not enrollment. For the current school year, the legislature allowed districts to use pre-pandemic attendance. But this year’s funding will be based on current attendance. While the declines in enrollment and attendance may be temporary, the effects of the millions to tens of millions of dollars in cuts per school district will cut services, teachers, and schools, which will not be easily restored.

Meanwhile, the state is expected to end this fiscal year (June 30 2022) with over ten billion dollars in budget surplus, and the state projects even more surplus in the fiscal year starting July 1, a surplus that will be so large that money may end up creating tax breaks or rebates to the people who least need them.

Community Day is the one school in Oakland available to students who have been expelled from other schools. It is scheduled to close in June. The school community – students, parents, staff and neighbors, have demanded the school be kept open, particularly since there will not be time to transition all of the students to other schools. Zack Haber reported that John Yee, president of the OUSD board, is  pushing to build housing on the site. Yee and Joshua Simon, a real estate developer and a major player in housing policy (read YIMBY), visited the site on February 25, without even signing in at the school.

Closure of a school is the first condition that must be met before a district declares the land to be “surplus” and therefore available for sale or lease. The money to be gotten from closing a school is a factor the California Board of Education recommends in “Closing a School Best Practices Guide”, which states that in choosing which school to close, a district should consider “Value – if maximizing revenue from the sale or lease of surplus schools is integral to decisions regarding which school to close, then, of course, a property appraisal and assessment of the interests in and proposed uses for the property are vital…”

Daly City Community Garden

The Daly City Community Garden, now scheduled for destruction as part of the serramonte del rey (SDR) project, is an example of how districts, local government, and real estate developers have worked together to turn public school properties into market rate housing, sometimes with just enough projected “affordable housing” to claim it meets state and local requirements.

In April of last year, the jefferson union high school district (juhsd) published a plan to build over 1100 apartments on a site that formerly had been occupied by the serramonte high school. Serramonte high school was closed in 1981, but was briefly reopened in 1993-1995. It then became the administration building for the district. A separate project to create 122 units of “workforce [staff] housing,” was approved in 2020 and is being built on a different part of the site. Although the staff housing project had been claimed as providing 100 percent “affordable” housing, a report by Daly City staff found that only 12 units would meet city and state requirements. The 1100 newly proposed units are all market rate, except for approximately 110 units that would be affordable (up to 120 percent of area median income), not low income (up to 80 percent of AMI).

photo of protest at community garden

Part of this construction project included destroying a community garden that had been started in 2001 for juhsd students, and developed into a community garden. It is the only community garden in daly city. Daly city is a community that used to be predominantly working and middle class, and which, like the rest of the Bay Area, has been under huge gentrification pressure. It is a densely populated area, with a large immigrant population. It has one of the smallest “urban canopies” (trees) in the area, only 3.5%. The garden has about 15 percent of the existing trees in daly city and is reported to be home to the mission blue butterfly, an endangered species. It also contains a natural wetland (bog).

The gardeners and 4 Daly City have been joined by other community groups including the Serramonte Ridge Renters Association, JUHSD Alumni for Green Schools, Preservation Ancient Traditional Indigenous Lands, Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter, Pacifica Social Justice, Youth vs Apocalypse, the Palestinian Youth Movement and Gay Shame, as well as many individual indigenous people. Like much of san mateo county, daly city is unceded land of the Raymatush Olone people, a people that is not recognized by the u.s. government.

Daly city has an “inclusionary housing ordinance” which requires new housing to include 10 percent very low income and low income units, that are distributed throughout the project, and are built at the same time as the rest of the project. The SDR development does not propose any low or very low income housing. Ninety percent of the 110 “affordable” units would be located in one plot of the project, which is planned to be built at some future date. The project has not applied for or obtained any funding for low income housing units.  Nonetheless in February the daly city city council gave preliminary approval for the project.

The union for the juhsd employees is strongly supporting the project saying it is the only way that teachers will get a raise. According to most estimates (the district refuses to disclose the finances of the proposal) the district would not make any money off the project for at least 10 years after approval. The developers and juhsd claim that the garden, which they plan to destroy before any more construction takes place, will be replaced by double the amount of “green space” by which they mean the lawns between buildings.

This is probably a good time to mention that california has a number of laws that are intended to limit cities, counties and “special districts” from giving away public lands to private interests. There are specific restrictions in the education code on selling or leasing school property, including that land must first be made available for use for low-income housing and for park and recreation purposes. Other conditions may be waived by the state department of education. Sales or lease of other public lands are supposed to comply with california’s “surplus lands act” but enforcement of any of these provisions, or the california environmental quality act, requires community groups to raise tens of thousands of dollars for multi-year lawsuits, while the government entity involved defends with public money.

Critics of the juhsd proposal, including us, have pointed out that juhsd has not followed the laws in many ways, that the project does not meet local or state criteria for affordable housing, and that the city gave preliminary approval for the project prior to even getting an environmental impact report. The city and the juhsd have also failed to provide public records.

As with so much that we do, it’s a bambi vs. godzilla struggle. The local press is in love with the idea of using school land to both fund education and develop more housing for people who can “afford” $3500-$5000 per month rent or more.

And developers are using these same tactics everywhere, often with the same consultants. For example, in san jose, the oak grove school district voted this year to sell the former Glider Elementary School to developer True Life Companies for $26.6 million. When the district closed the school in 2018, they said they would not sell the land but in 2020 decided to sell.

According to the San Jose Spotlight, San Jose community advocates have pointed to a specific conflict of interest in the deal, since dominic dutra, the school district’s consultant, is a real estate agent, and receives a commission from the sale. The community has been raising money to fund a lawsuit, and are also going to petition the city council to stop the sale.

Victory on E12th Street

On March 2, the Oakland city council voted 5-3 to stop the sale of the public land on East 12th Street to private developers who planned to build 360 units of predominantly market rate housing on the site. The Save E12th Coalition formed in 2014. A couple of years later, the East 12th St. Alliance formed, and came to include SEIU 1021, California Nurses Association, Oakland Education Association, Urban Strategies Council, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, Causa Justa::Just Cause, Oakland Community Organizations, People of Color Sustainable Housing Network, and Urban Habitat. In 2016 the Alliance developed a “people’s proposal” for the site. Several lawsuits were also filed because the proposed project violated california’s surplus lands act.

After the March 2 vote, the Save E12th Coalition sent the following email after the victory at city council:

Dear supporters of the Save E12th Coalition!!!

💥 Seven+ years of organizing has paid off!!

💥 Last night the City Council cast a decisive 5 to 3 vote denying the 6th extension to the luxury tower development on the East 12th St Remainder Parcel, and committing once and for all to affordable housing on this public land!!

💥 We started this PUBLIC LAND FOR PUBLIC GOOD fight in 2014 and along the way lifted the voices of our communities, we organized for Oakland to stem displacement and gentrification, and worked to prioritize dignified and affordable housing for those who need it most.

💥 Along the way our efforts inspired the public lands policy for Oakland, contributed to improving conditions for our houseless neighbors, said no to luxury towers on public land, and said yes to maximizing affordable housing on E12th St!

💥 It took a lot of us to get here. Neighbors, organizers, union reps, legal teams, journalists, architects, landscape architects, planners, radical developers, students, movement chefs, artists, & entertainers, and city council members all worked tirelessly. 

💥 All throughout we always insisted on maximizing affordable housing on E12th St and WE WON!! Thank you for all of your support over the years!

The city council has not committed to any alternate proposal, and we can be sure that there will be plenty of profiteers on the way. But congratulations to Save E12 on their victory!

Support Indigenous Resistance

by Amanda

This is an overview of current pipeline struggles and local indigenous struggles in occupied Ohlone territory in the Bay Area where I live.

Saying No to Line 3

Line 3 is a proposed pipeline expansion to bring nearly a million barrels of tar sands crude oil per day from Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin. Enbridge, a Canadian pipeline company responsible for hundreds of the dirtiest oil spills in the world including the largest inland oil spill in the US, is building a new pipeline corridor through pristine forests, hundreds of waterways and untouched wetlands; crossing the Mississippi River twice, and going through the treaty territory of Anishinaabe peoples to end at the shore of Lake Superior. Line 3 would violate the treaty rights of Anishinaabe peoples and other nations in its path. Wild rice, a centerpiece of Anishinaabe culture, grows in numerous watersheds in the path of Line 3. The pipeline could also contaminate the drinking water for millions of people. 

This expansion of a dying tar sands industry would emit 193 million tons of greenhouse gases in the next 50 years, the equivalent of 50 coal plants. Its carbon footprint would exceed the entire state of Minnesota and would extend the economic viability of the ultra-polluting crude oil source in a way that one expert called “game over for the climate.” If completed, Line 3 would carry hundreds of thousands of barrels a day of tar sands crude oil, some of the dirtiest oil in the world. Huge clear-cuts and massive destruction of the land and water can be seen in videos of the construction alone.

Enbridge is trying to rush the pipeline completion through this winter with more than 4,000 workers from all over the country living and working in close quarters, a super-spreader environment for Covid to workers and the surrounding communities. There has also been an increase in documented assaults and sexual violence against women in the area as has been seen wherever these “man camps” exist. A recent report of a human trafficking sting in Northern Minnesota resulted in the arrest of two Line 3 workers and one man was charged with soliciting sex with a minor. Indigenous people had warned state regulators that Line 3 would bring increased sex and drug trafficking to the area and add to the existing epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives. In response, the state permits for pipeline construction stipulated that Enbridge had to create a fund to cover anti-human trafficking efforts they knew would be associated with the pipeline construction.

The current line 3 is corroding and has hundreds of structural problems. There is undoubtedly contamination under the line. Enbridge wants to simply abandon the old line 3 and the expensive clean up. Indigenous nations are standing up along with local people, mayors, and county commissioners increasingly concerned about Enbridge ignoring liability for its old pipeline. This is a problem with much of our aging fossil fuel infrastructure. The corporations walk away leaving us to deal with the toxic sites.

The permit for Line 3 was granted, and the recent Minnesota Court of Appeals failed to halt construction. Massive direct actions and protests are continuing to block construction. Nearly 200 people have been arrested in the brutal cold of a Minnesota winter. Defenders have set up resistance camps, blockaded and occupied worksites, locked down to construction equipment and inside the pipeline. Tribes vow to continue fighting and are appealing to Biden to cancel the permit. Thousands of other groups support their call to protect indigenous rights and culture and decommission the old crumbling Line 3 and justly transition to a renewable, sustainable economy. The Giniw Collective, indigenous woman, 2-spirit led, are in frontline resistance and say “We stand unafraid” to protect our Mother, defend the sacred, and live in balance.

Wall Street is funding, insuring and investing in the climate crisis. Stopping this money pipeline is one of the most important ways we can address the climate emergency. There are many campaigns to stop the flow of money to fossil fuels. Just this week Rutgers University voted to divest all university money from fossil fuel industries. Insurance companies are also responding to public pressure, and the writing on the wall of climate catastrophe, to stop insuring fossil fuel infrastructure. Check out campaigns under Stop the Money.

OnApril 1stfrontline Indigenous youth and organizers from the Dakota Access and Line 3 pipeline fights will travel to Washington D.C. to demand that President Biden Build Back Fossil Free by stopping these climate-destroying projects. By the time this edition of UltraViolet is out, there will be announcements of national solidarity actions. Info at Build Back Fossil Free Campaign. More Info Honor the Earth or Stopline3.org

Fight Against DAPL Continues

April 1st 2021 marks the five year anniversary of the birth of the Sacred Stone Camp and the well known fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) which brought together Indigenous people from across the Americas and supporters from around the world to stop the 1,172 mile pipeline at the point it was crossing under the Missouri River on the Standing Rock Reservation. Five years later indigenous people are still struggling to protect the water, land and sky for future generations (as they have for hundreds of years). The pipeline’s trespass of their historic territories was a violation of treaties with the U.S. government. The opposition was violently attacked, and the DAPL pipeline was illegally completed.

DAPL cost $3.8 billion to construct going from the Baaken shale fields to Illinois. Another leg, the Bayou Bridge pipeline, went south to St. James, Louisiana through the largest swamp in the US. A fierce coalition of Indigenous folks, local black residents, people whose living comes from fishing in the area, and supporters were violently and illegally attacked with hundreds of arrests while blocking construction. The oil is flowing but water protectors were able to demand a reroute to save 11 acres of swamp where they have grown an amazing food forest that contributes to the mutual aid network in the area.

photo of demo

DAPL currently pumps 570,000 barrels a day of fracked shale oil. Oil has been flowing since 2017 despite Tribal governments and organizations continued pressuring of courts to subject the pipeline to a full environmental review. In March 2020 a federal judge ordered the Army Corps to conduct an EIR and vacated the pipeline’s right to pass beneath Lake Oahe. Indigenous groups say the pipeline is now operating illegally because of the judge’s decision.  Energy Transfer, with the Trump administration’s support, refused to shut the line down and wants to increase the flow to 1.1 million barrels a day. This would add even more risk for spills of this extremely dirty oil.

Following a Jan. 27 court ruling that the pipeline is operating illegally without the necessary federal permits, President Biden has the opportunity to immediately shut down the illegal Dakota Access Pipeline while the Environmental Impact Statement process is conducted. Campaigns raising this demand are ongoing. Last month, Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux youth ran 93 miles to site of the Sacred Stone Camp to pressure President Biden shut down the Bakken oil pipeline. The demand will also be raised in Washington DC on April 1 along with Stop Line 3. More info on the DC action Build Back Fossil Free.  Info on DAPL at Indigenous Environmental Network

The West Berkeley Shellmound

The West Berkeley Shellmound (WBS) is an Ohlone sacred village and burial site that is approximately 5,700 years old located in Berkeley CA. It is the oldest place of human habitation in the Bay Area. Members of the Ohlone community gather at the site for prayer and ceremony today as they have for thousands of years. Local Ohlone leaders say the site is critical to the cultural survival of a people who have been systemically oppressed for generations. “It’s not too late to save this one piece of ground, this one place that doesn’t have building, this one place that is open to the sky.” said Corrina Gould of the Confederated Villages of Lisjan (Ohlone)

While it’s covered in concrete now, the City of Berkeley designated the site as a City Landmark, because of the significant and essential role the site plays in the history of the Bay Area. The State placed the site on the California Register of Historic Resources, and the National Trust placed the WBS site on its 2020 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places

The WBS is at risk of desecration by a multi story condo and shopping development. The Shellmound defenders are working to return the site to open space with room to continue Ohlone gatherings and ceremonies. Past excavations in and around the proposed site have uncovered hundreds of human burials and undisturbed cultural remains. When the City of Berkeley denied the permits, the developer sued the city and lost the case. In February 2021, the developers appealed the massive court victory, which protected WBS from development. Simultaneously, they imprisoned the WBS site in thousands of feet of barbed wire and fencing, covered with dozens of no trespassing signs and security cameras which deny any access to the site. From the WBS call to action this week, “This is another act of settler colonial aggression and violence, part of a long history of the criminalization of Indigenous religion and spirituality. May all the fences, walls, and borders fall! FREE the West Berkeley Shellmound! “ More info at Save the West Berkeley Shellmound FB page or website

Free the Indigenous People’s Day Five

5 Indigenous women and Two Spirited people are facing felony charges in relation to the toppling of a statue of Junipero Serra at Mission San Rafael. Known as the Indigenous People’s Day 5 (IPD 5), they were picked out for prosecution from a large, 80% white crowd present at a demonstration on Indigenous People’s Day in 2020 where the statue was brought down.  This is part of a nationwide effort to remove symbols of white supremacy, violence, enslavement, and genocide, with many removed by city and state officials themselves.

Junipero Serra was an architect of the mission system in California, which imprisoned and enslaved Indigenous people. Serra was directly responsible for rape, torture, and genocide. His canonization was, and is, opposed by many both Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups, and numerous statues of Serra have been taken down.

photo of demonstrator

“Progressive” Marin District Attorney Lori Frugoli is continuing to press charges, despite thousands of emails and phone calls from supporters across the Bay Area and beyond demanding that the charges be dropped. A petition was delivered to her office with 76,000 signatures. March 18 is the next court date. Please call Frugoli to demand the felony charges be dropped at 415-473-6450.  More info at Indigenous Peoples Day 5 Solidarity Coalition

Support Local Indigenous Struggles

by Amanda

Wherever you are, there are indigenous people not far away struggling to preserve and protect their water, land base, people, and non-human relatives / the environment. Standing Rock galvanized worldwide widespread support for indigenous-led resistance to DAPL. As the camps were forced to close by military occupation, people were urged to go back to their communities across the country and support the local struggles.

Here in the Bay Area, there are many indigenous struggles led by powerful women. The Bay Area was a major center of relocation in the 1950’s, a policy of the US Government (Public Law 959) to remove Indians from the reservations to further exploit their natural resources and aid in assimilation to get rid of the “Indian problem.” In many ways that effort at assimilation backfired as Indian people from many nations found each other and formed community centers like Intertribal Friendship House in Oakland, the oldest Urban Indian community center in the country which is still going strong. Activists came together and occupied Alcatraz in 1969 and 1970 which became a community movement with whole families moving to the island.

One of the oldest ongoing woman-led organizations in the Bay Area is Indian People Organizing for Change (IPOC), here in Huichin / Oakland. IPOC started in 1999 by long-time activist Johnella LaRose and Corrina Gould. Starting with community organizing in the Indian community, IPOC started advocating for social services but also started getting calls about burial sites being disturbed in the Dotcom building boom. During this period the Bay Street Mall was built on top of a burial site and shellmound.  (Shellmounds were huge structures larger than the pyramids, which were burial sites and sacred areas. They were visible from one side of the Bay to the other and early European maps recorded them as navigational tools.) IPOC and allies were unable to stop the project, but began the annual Black Friday protest at the “Dead Mall” to let people know they were shopping on top of a bulldozed cemetery. As IPOC learned more about the history of the more than 400 shell mounds encircling the SF Bay, they decided to do a series of walks starting in 2004. We walked, prayed, and stopped at village sites, missions, and shellmounds all along the Bay. Each year the walk was over 200 miles, exhausting but learning more and more.  It changed the way we saw the Bay Area, more deeply understanding the devastation of the indigenous people, the shellmounds, and the environment.

The Shellmound walks started at Sogorea Te, near the Carquinez Straits, a traditional gathering and ceremonial site for many indigenous nations in the area as well as a burial site.  The Vallejo Intertribal Council had been fighting for years to keep the site from being developed and desecrated.  In April 2011 Corrina, Johnella, and 8 others occupied the site expecting to be arrested momentarily. Instead, the occupation grew with hundreds of people coming through and lasted for 109 days until negotiations between the Vallejo city and park district ended in, at the time, a satisfactory agreement.

Now, IPOC is organizing the efforts to save the West Berkeley Shellmound. A parking lot in West Berkeley is slated to have a huge development put on the site of the oldest village site in the Bay Area where there was a huge shellmound. Since the site has been a parking lot, the area beneath the asphalt has not been disturbed.  Along with allies, IPOC has organized 100s of people to turn out for city hearings and protests. About 1800 letters were sent to the city opposing the project compared to a handful in support of the project.  Alternative visions for the site to be preserved as open space are being proposed.  We are waiting for Berkeley to consider the issue.

One of the most ambitious efforts that IPOC is organizing is the Sogorea Te land trust. From the website, “The Sogorea Te Land Trust is an urban Indigenous women-led community organization that facilitates the return of Chochenyo and Karkin Ohlone lands in the San Francisco Bay Area to Indigenous stewardship…. Guided by the belief that land is the foundation that can bring us together, Sogorea Te calls on us all to heal from the legacies of colonialism and genocide, to remember different ways of living, and to do the work that our ancestors and future generations are calling us to do.”

IPOC is in great need of our financial support right now. Please make checks out to California Indian Environmental Alliance, put IPOC in memo and send to CIEA, PO Box 2128, Berkeley, CA 94702

Another amazing woman-led indigenous organization is Idle No More SF Bay, INM. Among it’s many activities, INM has organized the Refinery Corridor Healing Walks.  “Our intention was to raise awareness of the fossil fuel corridor, the communities in these sacrifice zones, and the devastating health effects of those living near the refineries.” Before the walks, few people in the Bay Area knew there were 5 refineries in the northeast SF Bay Area. A circle of grandmothers had the original vision for the walks. Over the last years, a number of young indigenous women have stepped up into leadership roles.

Each walk has local organizers talk about their struggles and victories to combat the fossil fuel industry. In Pittsburg, CA a proposal for an oil terminal was defeated, Each walk has a guest indigenous woman from the Americas talking about the struggle in her community. The last walk had moving testimony from Ponca activist Suzaatah Horinek from Oklahoma who told us they have multiple earthquakes daily from fracking, constant flaring from the refineries, and people paid to relocate due to oil sludge entering the basements of their home. The final of the 16 walks will be on July 16. The guest will be  Gloria Ushigua Santi , a leader of the Sapara tribe in the Amazon of Ecuador.  Her community has been under attack by the fossil fuel industry for decades.  Check the Refinery Corridor Healing Walks 2017 website for more info.

Another indigenous woman-led movement in the Bay Area has been to end racist Indian mascots by sports teams. Kris Longoria has mobilized the efforts which have many people turning out to professional team sports games in the area when one of these teams is here playing.

Indigenous people have long made decisions thinking of the next 7 generations. The stands we take today will determine if it is possible for another 7 generations to survive on this earth. The earth will heal herself even if it takes billions of years. It is the humans who may not survive.

 

#NoDAPL #NoKXL – 2017 At a Glance

By Blue

It came as no surprise to most of us that there were more people protesting the inauguration in Washington DC than people celebrating it on January 20th. Activists against the Dakota Access pipeline — a proposed oil pipeline that would run through indigenous lands in North Dakota — were part of the thousands of protesters at Trump’s inauguration. Groups of Indigenous people, as well as other environmental activists against the pipeline, formed a human chain like the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) protesters to block off an entrance to the National Mall. Sister protests were held in major and minor cities around the country and the globe and have continued into the coming months.

On February 8, the US Army Corps granted the final easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to cross the Mni Sose (Missouri River).  They also terminated the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) ordered in December, and skipped the congressional notification period required by law.  This was made possible by the Presidential Memorandum directing the Corps to expedite approval of the project.  Dozens gathered outside of San Francisco’s Federal Building Wednesday, February 8 to protest the approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.  Around 13 demonstrators were arrested while they silently occupied the front entrance of the Federal Building.

On February 28th Standing Rock Camp was abandoned after receiving eviction notice from the North Dakota authorities. The camp, also known as Oceti Sakowin Camp, started in March 2016 to protest DAPL, lasted almost a year despite violent police actions, roadblocks and arrests plus severe snow storms and summer heat. The Lakota Sioux tribe hosted thousands of people from all over the world including hundreds of Native American tribes that had not met together in over 100 years. The Lakota Sioux led the protests at Standing Rock in prayer ceremonies and other peaceful actions. They are now known around the world as Water Protectors. The leaders in their 50s and 60s were warned as children by their elders of the Black Snake that will cause critical imbalance in the natural, ritually pure waters of Lake Oahe. The tribe continues to fight the pipeline in court by focusing on lawsuits.

Indigenous Groups Pledge Mass Mobilization. The Indigenous Environmental Network hosted numerous Indigenous people from across the country at the end of January to outline next steps to fight back against the Keystone XL pipeline following news that Transcanada submitted a new application to revive the pipeline following the President’s executive orders.

“Donald Trump has declared war on Indigenous nations across the country. This pipeline runs right through the traditional lands of the great Sioux Nation. Attacks on our lands, sovereignty, and health must stop. We will fight using prayer and non-violent direct action to stop Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, and we will not back down,” said Joye Braun, an organizer from the Cheyenne River Sioux.

“Make no mistake: resistance to the toxic Keystone XL pipeline will only grow stronger. We will mobilize, fight back, and resist the Keystone XL pipeline. We plan to create camps along the Keystone XL pipeline route to fight this pipeline every step of the way. If Donald Trump doesn’t back down, expect a massive unified resistance from Indigenous nations across North America,” said Dallas Goldtooth, Keep it in the Ground organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network. According to Dallas Goldtooth, the KXL pipeline cannot be built without a Nebraska state permit.

#DefundDAPL Movement

On March 17th a Norwegian fund, KLP, that manages government employees’ pensions decided to remove its investments from the companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, a move that was reportedly inspired by pressure from Norway’s indigenous Sami peoples.

NPR reported that several U.S. cities have chosen to divest from DAPL-associated businesses. Most recently, San Francisco’s board of supervisors has voted in favor of divestment. Also the state employees of California and California teacher’s pension plans, CalPERS and CalSTRS have written letters to Wells Fargo threatening divestment if the bank continues to fund Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) the company responsible for DAPL.

Most of those divestments, many driven by the #DefundDAPL movement, have targeted the banks that lend money to the oil and gas companies building the pipeline. The Norwegian pension fund, in contrast, went directly after the petroleum companies.

KLP says it wasn’t able to persuade the companies — ETP, which is building the pipeline, and Phillips 66, Enbridge Inc., and Marathon Petroleum Corp., which own stakes in it — to change their behavior through “active ownership,” prompting the decision to divest.

It’s not the first time KLP has divested funds. The group has moved away from coal investments and divested funds over companies’ actions in the West Bank.

The largest bank in Norway, DNB, has announced that it has sold its assets in the Dakota Access pipeline. The news follows the delivery of 120,000 signatures gathered by SumOfUs.org to DNB by Greenpeace Norway and others urging the bank and other financial institutions to pull finances for the project. DNB recently indicated that it is reconsidering the loan it provided, which amounts to 10 percent of the total funding.

Just days before oil was set to flow through the completed DAPL someone burned holes in the pipeline in Iowa and South Dakota. No one has claimed responsibility for the action.